Don’t unfreeze Ozekhome’s N75m, EFCC tells judge
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked Justice Abdulaziz Anka of the Federal High Court, Lagos to reject Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN)’s bid to unfreeze his Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) account which has a balance of N75m.
It stated this Thursday in a counter-affidavit it filed in opposition to Ozekhome’s application.
Justice Anna froze the account on February 7, following an ex-parte application from the EFCC claiming that the N75m deposited into the account last December 15, was suspected to be proceeds of crime.
He ordered Ozekhome to forfeit the money for 120 days pending investigation by the EFCC.
Ozekhome is the counsel for the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, whose accounts have been frozen by the EFCC for alleged money laundering.
The EFCC claimed that the money, which was paid to Ozekhome as legal fee by Fayose, was part of the N2.26billion arms procurement fund, which a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), allegedly looted.
It claimed that Dasuki routed N1.22bn out of the N2.26bn, to Fayose through a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.
But the lawyer approached the court stating that the EFCC misrepresented facts to obtain the order and urged Justice Anka to lift the order.
The SAN contended that the EFCC’s action was unconstitutional, had no legal justification and was a gross violation of sections 36, 37 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution.
But in yesterday’s counter-affidavit deposed to by EFCC counsel, Idris Mohammed, the commission stated that Fayose was aware that Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court had placed a temporary restriction on his account, but the governor, through Ozekhome, went before Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Ado Ekiti Division of the Federal High Court to obtain an order to unfreeze the account.
The prosecutor said even though Fayose was aware that the commission immediately appealed Justice Taiwo’s ruling, the governor still went ahead to dissipate part of the contentious funds, paying N75m to Ozekhome who helped him to secure Justice Taiwo’s unfreezing order.
The EFCC claimed that Ozekhome ought to have “reasonably known that the N75m was transferred to him” from Fayose’s account, which the EFCC claimed was used to retain proceeds of crime and alleged kick-backs from some contractors in Ekiti State.
It urged Justice Anka not to unfreeze Ozekhome’s account.
Justice Anka adjourned till March 7, for hearing.