Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State will have to wait longer before he can access his bank accounts domiciled in the Ado-Ekiti branch of Zenith Bank, which were frozen about two weeks ago by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
A federal high court siting in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, on Monday adjourned a suit filed by the governor against the EFCC seeking his bank accounts to be de-frozen, to September 30
The EFCC, which appeared in court against the suit for the first time, also filed a counter-affidavit against Fayose and tendered nine exhibits to be relied on to prove its case against the governor.
While Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Rotimi Oyedepo appeared for Fayose and EFCC respectively, Oluwaseun Omotoso was counsel to the 3rd defendant (Zenith Bank).
It would be recalled that the anti-graft agency froze the governor’s account over alleged money laundering to the tune of N1.2billion believed to be part of the N4.7billion slush funds from the Office of the former National Security Adviser (ONSA).
The governor had on June 28 approached the court with an ex parte motion deposed to by Bimpe Olatemiju, praying the court to grant a mandatory order lifting the ban placed on the said accounts.
He described the EFCC’s action as an infraction and brazen infringement on absolute immunity conferred on him by Section 308 of the 1999 constitution.
In a ruling on the motion, Justice Taiwo Taiwo ordered the EFCC and Zenith Bank to appear before his court and show cause why the restriction placed on Fayose’s bank accounts should not be lifted.
However, Mr. Fayose got more than he bargained for at yesterday’s hearing as the EFCC not only filed a 10-paragraph counter-affidavit, it presented more exhibits to the court.
Counsel to the 2nd defendant, which is the EFCC, Oyedepo said: “We received the order of the court on June 29th, directing us to appear and file counter-affidavit to show cause why the court should not set aside the freezing directive on the account in the custody of the 2nd respondent.
“We have complied with Your Lordship’s directive as a law-abiding agency by timeously filing10-paragraph counter-affidavit and with nine different exhibits marked EFCC 01-EFCC 09.
“We have served processes on the counsel of the applicant and the counsel to the 2nd respondent. We also received a Motion on Notice from the applicant dated June 23rd, wherein the applicant is asking for an order lifting suspension on his account.
“We have filed a counter-affidavit of 10 paragraphs with nine exhibits together with written address served on counsel to the applicant and counsel to the 2nd respondent”.
In his response, Ozekhome said: “My lord, I was just served three minutes before the court sitting started and I have not gone through the legal submission.
“Browsing through them, I can see that virtually all the issues raised by EFCC were issues never touched upon at all.
“We don’t want to be caught by the cul de sac of the Supreme Court order that evidence note denied is deemed admitted.
“It is only reasonable and proper that we be given the opportunity to traverse and contradict every single thing they have alleged.
“That automatically means an adjournment, which they have foisted on us”.
Justice Taiwo said the court won’t be able to accommodate a short adjournment in view of an impending official assignment later this week and the commencement of annual vacation next week.
The judge suggested that a date after vacation would be convenient.
In the alternative, the judge explained that parties could take the case to any of the three vacation judges expected to sit at Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt during the period if they want the matter heard soonest.
Ozekhome said he would not want the matter transferred to a vacation judge because the action might be misinterpreted, expressing the readiness of all parties to wait till after vacation.
The trial judge subsequently adjourned to September 30 in consultation with parties for hearing of all pending applications, motions and the substantive suit.