Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High court sitting in Ado Ekiti has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to lift the restriction placed on some accounts belonging to Governor Ayodele Fayose domiciled with Zenith Bank, plc.
The court equally set aside an earlier order of a Federal High court, Lagos empowering the EFCC to freeze two accounts domiciled in the new generation bank.
Justice Taiwo therefore ordered the EFCC to immediately defreeze the two accounts belonging to the governor without further delay, on the account that the anti-graft agency did not follow due process in confiscating them.
In the judgement, the presiding Judge, said the rights of the governor had been unconstitutionally infringed upon, considering the circumstance of his office.
He averred that apart from the immunity which Mr Fayose currently enjoyed as a sitting governor under section 308 of the constitution, it was wrong for the EFCC to have gone ahead to seize his two accounts in apparent perpetuity without first investigating him or making him a party.
He stated that rather than the EFCC freezing the governor’s accounts directly through the third party who did not enjoy any mandate from him, the governor himself ought to have been first investigated and brought into the picture.
Justice Taiwo described Fayose as “a genuinely deprived person who rushed to the court to seek constitutional protection”.
The judge thereby gave a mandatory order the de-freezing, unblocking and making operational the two accounts by the respondents.
He said it was also the duty of any presiding judge to protect the said constitution and its interpretations whenever the need arises.
“The Plaintiff is entitled to be heard before his property or money can be seized, doing otherwise will amount to denying him fair hearing and constitutional rights”, he said.
The judge however refused to grant other relief sought by the governor, including a perpetual injunction restraining EFCC or its agents from further tampering with his property, and another one asking for payment of N5billion as exemplary damages.
“This court will not shield any person from due investigation and since Police cannot be stopped from investigating a crime, same goes for the First Respondent so as not to whittle down its functions”, the judge said.