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Why EFCC’s power to freeze accounts does not respect immunity

Many Nigerians were left in shock yesterday, June 21, when news broke that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had frozen accounts belonging to the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose despite his immunity status.

Supporters of the controversial governor have since then been crying foul, even labeling the EFCC’s move an act of illegality. Fayose even described the action as illegal when he announced to the world that his accounts were frozen.

“I find out that the EFCC had blocked my account and the account of some of my associates. I see this as illegal. If you want to fight corruption, fight corruption based on rule of law. I’m a sitting governor and under Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution I enjoy immunity,” he said.

Zenith letter

Zenith letter

Reacting to Fayose’s illegality claim, the EFCC’s spokesman, Wilson Uwajaren said the anti-graft agency acted within the ambits of the law. “We froze the account because Fayose has no immunity against investigation.”

It is pertinent to note that this is not the first time the EFCC will seize accounts of a sitting governor in Nigeria as same happened under the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2014 when then Adamawa government under Murtala Nyako’s accounts were frozen ‘as a precautionary measure to safeguard the state treasury amidst evidence of looting uncovered during investigation.”

Furthermore, Zenith Bank’s letter to Fayose informing him of their directive from the EFCC to block his account also noted where the agency derived the powers to freeze accounts under investigation.

“We are in receipt of letters from the EFCC directing that we restrict the following accounts in line with the provisions of section 38 (1) of the EFCC establishment Act 2004,” Zenith Bank’s letter read in part.

  • Daniel Fayemi for

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