Court Summons Zenith Bank, EFCC over Fayose’s Account
A Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to appear before it on July 4 to explain why it should not unfreeze Governor Ayodele Fayose’s account with Zenith Bank.
The commission had frozen Fayose’s account and those of some of his associates after allegedly tracing N4.7bn from the Office of the National Security Adviser to them and those of two sons of a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.
The governor, a strong critic of President Muhammadu Buhari, had gone to a branch of the bank located on Bank/Secretariat Road for to carry out some transactions when he discovered that his account had been frozen.
Fayose through his lawyer, Mr. Mike Ozekhome (SAN), approached the court on Tuesday through an ex parte order seeking a mandatory order unfreezing the accounts pending the determination of his interlocutory application.
He also sought the leave of the court for the service of the originating summons of the substantive suit on the respondents in their various addresses outside the jurisdiction of the court.
The first and second respondents are the EFCC and Zenith bank.
The application was brought pursuant to Order 26 Rule 8(1) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rule 2009 and Section 44(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
Adopting the written address, Ozekhome contended that the EFCC’s action contravened Section 308 of the Constitution, which conferred immunity on the governor.
Citing the case of Abdulaziz Nyako Vs EFCC, he argued that the anti-graft agency had no power to freeze Fayose’s account without a valid court order.
But ruling on the application, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, said the Applicant/Plaintiff (Fayose) should put the respondents on notice.
He said, “I quite agree that the court can make a mandatory order in extreme cases. There is no doubt there are triable issues before the court, more so when the applicant is a sitting governor.
“I quite agree that the applicant has immunity pursuant to provisions of the Constitution, but it is glaring that what the applicant is looking for is a mandatory order to undo what had already been done.
“In this case, it is noted by the court that the reliefs sought by the applicant are better granted during the interlocutory injunction. I don’t think any court will abdicate his duties. I have restrained from going into the merit of the case because the originating summon has yet to be heard and should not be preempted.
“I hereby order the first and second respondents to appear before this court on why the order being sought should not be granted.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the prayer is not refused but put in abeyance pending when the respondents would appear before the court on July 4 to show cause why it should not be granted.
“The respondent should file a counter affidavit before July 4 and if possible, the motion will be heard on same day.” PUNCH