By Danjuma Aliyu
The Federal High Court in Lagos has lifted the order which barred Mike Ozekhome, SAN, from accessing his account.
On February 7, Justice Abdulaziz Anka, ordered a temporary forfeiture of N75million found in Ozekhome’s based on the argument made by Rotimi Oyedepo, a senior counsel for The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Mr Oyedepo, SAN claimed that the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, had paid a sum of N75m into Mr Ozekhome’s Guaranty Trust Bank account from a frozen account.
Justice Anka wondered why the EFCC would freeze a lawyer’s professional fees, more so when it was paid from a Court – ordered defrozeen account.
The judge vacated the interim freeze order and dismissed the opposing counter-affidavit of the EFCC, saying the anti-graft commission acted in a diabolical manner.
The judge’s ruling reads:
“There is no argument whatsoever as to the source of the funds as rightly argued by the learned counsel for the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, but the question is: can the respondent/applicant be liable for any infraction as of the time he received the amount in his account?
“His evidence was not controverted that the same proceeds were unencumbered as of the time they were transferred into the account of Mike Ozekhome Chambers as rightly argued by Mr Ozekhome.
The freeze order earlier obtained by the EFCC in respect of Governor Fayose’s account had been vacated by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Ado Ekiti Division of the court. Justice Anka recognized this as he delivered his ruling today.
“The Federal High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti, Coram Taiwo J, ordered that the unfreezing of the said account belonging to Governor Ayodele Fayose.
“…considering the order above quoted and the depositions, I do not understand or comprehend why the applicant/respondent’s counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, would still argue and stand his ground that the same account has not be unfrozen by the Federal High Court sitting in Ekiti State.
“In both the order and the depositions, the account numbered 1000312625, was evidently and manifestly unfrozen, such an argument, therefore, by Mr Oyedepo Esq cannot hold water.”
Mr Ozekhome, SAN, was present in court. He praised the judge for exhibiting rare courage and upholding the rule of Law and the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens, even in the face of clear intimidation of the judiciary and browbeating of judges.
Mr Ozekhome later lambasted the Presidential Advisory Committee on anti-Corruption, accusing it of serially misleading President Muhammad Buhari government through low quality anti-people advice which has in turn led the government into taking draconian and despotic actions against nigerian citizens,thereby putting fundamental rights and rule of Law to flight.
He said the Committee has become a great burden, albatross on the government’s neck, creating problems, rather than solutions, to the government; winning for it more enemies than friends.
It is a second negative ruling against the EFCC, today. Earlier today, Justice John Tsoho, of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, declined the verbal request made for the arrest of former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN.