Court Orders Immediate De-freezing of Governor Fayose’s Accounts

Court Orders Immediate De-freezing of Governor Fayose's AccountsA Federal High court sitting in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to lift the restriction placed on some accounts belonging to Governor Ayodele Fayose in Zenith Bank.

The court also set aside an earlier order of a Federal High court, Lagos empowering the EFCC to freeze two accounts domiciled in the new generation bank.

The court has consequently 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.

Delivering his judgement, the presiding Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, said the rights of the governor had been unconstitutionally infringed upon, considering the circumstance of his office.

Justice Taiwo declared 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 averred 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.

The judge 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.

EFCC lead counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo was absent at the court but Fayose’s lead counsel, Ozekhome, in his reaction described the judgment as the best to be so made the EFCC in history, saying it would checkmate the agency against years of brazen arbitrariness and excesses.

The EFCC had on June 21, 2016 confiscated the two accounts having allegedly contained a sum of N2.99billion out of the N2.3 billion arms money allegedly drawn by the governor from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki to prosecute his governorship election in 2014.

Fayose through his lawyer, Mr Mike Ozekhome approached the court and sought for the enforcement of his fundamental rights, which involved the de-freezing of the two accounts.

SERAP Demands Judges’ Release, Threatens To Sue Buhari

SERAP, Buhari, Judges releaseRights advocacy group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has written President Muhammadu Buhari, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Nigerian judges arrested in the midnight of Saturday by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

The group, which also wrote the United Nations on the case, threatened to take legal action, both locally and internationally, against the President, should the arrested judges not be immediately freed.

The DSS has explained that the judges are being investigated for corruption and also gave figures of amounts it had recovered from them in a statement on Saturday, but SERAP maintains in its own statement that while it fully supported Buhari’s anti-corruption war, it viewed the clampdown on judges as a “blow on the independence of the judiciary and a dangerous precedent that should not be allowed to stand”.

The group fears that if the development is allowed to stand or continue, it would make judges susceptible to pressure from the executive and spell the final collapse of judiciary’s independence.

“We are seriously concerned about the wave of arrests, intimidation and harassment of judges across the country by the DSS. While we fully support the government’s efforts to eradicate judicial corruption, we cannot accept anti-corruption strategies and methods which patently offend the rule of law and undermine the authority, integrity, sanctity and independence of the judiciary.

“SERAP believes that strategies and methods to sanction suspected corrupt judges must never have an inhibiting or chilling effect on the authority, sanctity, integrity and independence of the judiciary.

“The uncertainty of the processes and grounds on which suspected corrupt judges can be sanctioned would affect the capacity of all judges to act independently, and the public confidence in the judiciary.

“Judges, like other constitutional functionaries, must face the law if they depart from or deceive the law, such as when they are suspected of engaging in corruption. But what the DSS has done is a blow to the independence of judiciary, and a dangerous precedent that should not be allowed to stand.

“The value of the principle of judicial independence is that it protects judges from arbitrary sanctions by the government. The way this country dispenses justice and treats its judges will show the moral and legal character to which it can pretend,” SERAP said.

The group added: “Judicial accountability must respect the fundamental principles of the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers, and its proceedings must be in line with constitutional and international standards of due process and fair trial.

“Indeed, international standards require that the bodies responsible for sanctioning corrupt judges should be independent from the government, and that any legal sanction against suspected corrupt judges must be determined in accordance with well-established procedures that guarantee the rights of judges to a fair and transparent trial, and to an independent review.”

“Grave Consequences”

The Nigerian Bar Association has also called for the immediate and unconditional release of the judges.

The group said their arrest was unconstitutional, declaring a state of emergency in the judiciary.

It says the arrests are disturbing and unconstitutional, describing it a situation that had never been witnessed.

The President of the NBA, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, at a briefing in Lagos, warned the Federal Government of “grave consequences” should the demands not be met.

Mr Mahmoud said two Supreme Court justices, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, were “abducted” with their families.

The Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, also condemned the arrest. He asked if the affected judges had been reported to the National Judicial Council (NJC), the body saddled with the responsibilities of investigating and sanctioning erring judges. “Were the affected judges ever invited by the DSS and they refused to honour the invitation?”

He described the arrests as a direct assault on the judiciary.

Governor Fayose, who addressed reporters in Ado-Ekiti on Saturday, said: “It should now be obvious to all Nigerians and the international community that democracy is under threat in Nigeria and Nigerians must rise to save democracy from being truncated.”

DSS Gestapo Invasion Of Judges’ Residences, Threat To Democracy – Fayose

Fayose's aide, EFCC, Abiodun AgbeleEkiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, has condemned the invasion of residences of five judges, including those of two Justices of the Supreme Court and their reported arrest by the Department of State Service (DSS), describing it as a direct assault on the judiciary.

Governor Fayose, who addressed reporters in Ado-Ekiti on Saturday, said: “It should now be obvious to all Nigerians and the international community that democracy is under threat in Nigeria and Nigerians must rise to save democracy from being truncated.

“For all intent and purposes, there is no how the federal government can justify the gestapo and crude action of the DSS against our judiciary, the last hope of the common man and I believe they just want to hide under anti-corruption fight to blackmail and intimidate the judiciary.

“If not, have the affected judges been reported to the National Judicial Council (NJC), the body saddled with the responsibilities of investigating and sanctioning erring judges? Were the affected judges ever invited by the DSS and they refused to honour the invitation”?

Supreme Court Justices, Walter Onnoghen, who Mr Fayose said was in line to succeed the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria and Sylvester Ngwuta, were among those whose houses were invaded.

DSS, Appropriation Committee
DSS were prevented from arrested a judge in Rivers State by Governor Nyesom Wike

The DSS said the judges were being investigated for corruption related offences and gave a summary of monies recovered from the judges.

But the Ekiti State Governor expresses worries over Justice Onnoghen’s involvement in the invasion.

Governor Fayose, known for his criticisms of the current government, said: “I am particularly worried over the involvement of Justice Walter Onnoghen in the invasion, and I hope this is not a plot to prevent his appointment as the next CJN just because he is from the South-South region.

“Nigerians should be reminded that I raised similar alarm when this regime of impunity started with the invasion of the Akwa-Ibom State government house and later the Ekiti State House of Assembly.

“I did say then that democracy in Nigeria was becoming unsafe in the hands of this APC government and that those keeping silent because of politics might also end up in the belly of the roaring lion that is threatening to consume our democracy,” the Governor stressed.

He pointed out that those who ought to have joined in condemning the DSS impunity at that time kept silent for fear of the unknown.

“Now we have gotten to the height of it and Nigeria faces full-blown military dictatorship! This is sad!

“It is more worrisome that two of the judges involved, Justice Adeniyi Ademola and Justice Nnamdi Dimgba ruled against the DSS and condemned.

“Its impunity on the cases of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and retired Air Commodore, Umar Mohammed and one wonders if upholding the rule of law by refusing to help the DSS to sustain its reign of impunity has now become a criminal offence for which judges must be harassed, intimidated and arrested.

“The question to ask is that, will the DSS be a judge in its own case? Even if there are evidence(s) of corruption against the judges as they will want Nigerians to believe, the law is clear as to what to do. The NJC must be informed and the council will in turn investigate the allegation and take appropriate actions. It is after this that the affected judges can be invited for questioning and possibly prosecuted.

“It should be noted that few days ago, the NJC sacked three judges for breaching the Codes of Conduct for Judicial Officers and went further to recommend that one of them, Justice Kabiru M. Auta be handed over to the Inspector General of Police for prosecution for alleged corruption.

“If NJC could do this less than one week ago, has the same NJC been informed of any allegation of corruption against the judges whose residences were invaded?

“I therefore call on all Nigerians and the international community to rise in defence of democracy and the rule of law in our country because as it is, no one will be spared by this rampaging dictatorship.

“Particularly, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and other stakeholders in the judiciary must not allow this to go unchallenged.

Supreme Court, Kogi Governorship
Nigerian Bar Association says the arrest of Supreme Court judges is unconstitutional

“Obviously, the DSS has become a threat to democracy in Nigeria, having abandoned its core mandate of providing intelligence for the protection of the internal security of Nigeria as provided in the Security Agencies Act Cap. N74 LFN, 2004.

“It has therefore become necessary that President Buhari put a stop to the actions and activities of these overzealous security agencies that can endanger democracy.

The Nigeria Bar Association has also condemned the arrests, describing it unconstitutional.

They are also demanding immediate release of the arrested judges, warning of grave consequences.

Olisah Metuh Loses Bid To Disqualify Court, Others

MetuhA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed an application filed by Mr Olisa Metuh seeking an end to the hearing of a suit against him in the court.          

Mr Metuh, who is the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had asked the court to disqualify itself from hearing a matter against him on grounds of bias by the presiding judge.

Abuse Of Court Process
He had alleged in his application that the presiding judge was a classmate of his, stressing that he knew him well and was therefore, ill-disposed to deliver justice on the matter.

In an earlier response to the allegation, Justice Okon Abang said that he did not know Mr Metuh and had not met him before now, a position that prompted the court to dismiss his application as an abuse of court process.

CourtGiving his ruling on the application on Friday, Justice Abang held that there were no substantial facts or evidence given by the PDP spokesman in support of the allegation upon which the court would disqualify itself.

The court heard another application by Mr Metuh and the second defendant in the matter, Dastra Investment Limited, to suspend proceedings at the Federal High Court, pending the decision of a similar case at the Court of Appeal.

It also considered an application asking the court to return the file of the case to the chief judge for re-assignment, and an application that the matter be adjourned to enable the second defendant change the counsel representing them.

This followed a disassociation from the previous counsel, who is currently representing the first defendant, Olisah Metuh.

metuhThe EFCC had earlier filed a seven-count charge of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering against the PDP National Publicity Secretary, but he was granted bail by a Federal High Court.

Sequel to his release, the anti-graft agency arraigned Mr Metuh on a two-count charge for criminal destruction of evidence and property of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), but was granted bail by Justice Okon Abang who signed his release warrant.

Metuh Files Human Rights Suit Against EFCC

MetuhThe National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Olisa Metuh has filed an abuse of human rights suit against the EFCC.

Counsel to Metuh, Mr Ifedayo Fadipe told the Abuja high court that his client was being held illegally by the commission beyond the time stipulated by law.

He asked the court to compel the commission to either release his client on administrative bail or charge him to court as required by law.

In the meantime, the EFCC has insisted it has a valid court order to detain Mr Olisa Metuh.

Counsel to the EFCC , Mr. Rotimi Jacobs said that contrary to the insinuation that Metuh is being held unlawfully, the commission had obtained an order of a court in line with the administration of Criminal Justice Act, approving the detention of the politician pending the completion of investigation into the allegations against him.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says it has filed a seven count charge of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering against the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Olisa Metuh.

Mr Metuh, according to the charges, transferred the sum of $1 million through his agent, Nneka Nicole Ararume, to one Sie Iyenome of Capital Field Investment committing an offense contrary to Section One of the Money Laundering Act.

He is also accused of receiving the sum of N400 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, without a contract contrary to the Money Laundering Act.

Mr Metuh, is also accused of converting the said money to funds for political activities of the People’s Democratic Party.

EFCC Files 7-Count Charge Against Olisa Metuh

bayelsa-MetuhThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says it has filed a seven count charge of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering against the National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, Mr Olisa Metuh.

Mr Metuh, according to the charges, transferred the sum of $1 million dollars through his agent, Nneka Nicole Ararume, to one Sie Iyenome of Capital Field Investment committing an offense contrary to Section One of the Money Laundering Act.

He is also accused of receiving the sum of N400 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, without a contract contrary to the Money Laundering Act.

Mr Metuh, is also accused of converting the said money to funds for political activities of the People’s Democratic Party.

Listed as witnesses in the suit are five commercial banks, a representative in the Office of the National Security Adviser, three investment houses and eight individuals.

The EFCC has however not indicated when the PDP spokesman will be arraigned.

The EFCC also said it has a valid court order to detain Mr Metuh over alleged corruption related crime.

EFCC Arrests APC Chieftain, Jafaru Isa

jafaru isaThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested a former military governor of Kaduna State and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Jafaru Isa.

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwajuren, told Channels Television that Mr Isa, who is believed to be an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari was picked up at his residence in Abuja for questioning over the ongoing probe into the disbursement of funds from the office of the former National Security Adviser.

Mr Isa is the first chieftain of the APC to be arrested by the EFCC since the beginning of a probe into the alleged diversion of $2.1 billion meant for arms purchase by officials of the immediate-past administration.

The retired brigadier general, had been invited last week by the anti-graft agency to clear the air on payments linked to him from the office of the former NSA.

EFCC To Arrest More Influential Corrupt Nigerians

EFCCNigerians may witness more drama as the anti-corruption campaign continues, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) promising to catch more influential Nigerians in its net in a couple of days.

Some of them are already explaining their role, or giving a breakdown of how monies they collected from the nation’s treasury were disbursed.

The spokesman of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, who confirmed this said that the affected persons have been under the EFCC’s searchlight for a while.

One of them is a former PDP Board of Trustees Chairman, who allegedly collected 260 million naira from the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki.

Chief Tony Anenih explained that, out of the amount, 63 million naira was given to Alhaji Tanki Yakasai, a former Special Assistant to former president, Shehu Shagari on National Assembly.

Meanwhile the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, has cited examples of several highly placed Nigerians including the former NSA, former ministers and ex-governors who are being quizzed by the agency about the management of the nation’s funds.

According to Mr Magu, “The effect of this, which is obvious for all to see, is the investigation, arrest and prosecution of some of the most powerful forces in Nigeria, who have questions to answer on their stewardship whilst in office.”

On the allegations that the anti-corruption war appears to be targeting only members of the opposition party, Mr Magu insisted that politics had nothing to do with it.

He said that no Nigerian shall be regarded as above the law, or treated as sacred cow, as far as the fight against corruption under the Buhari administration is concerned.