The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has opposed an application by the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, asking a Federal High Court in Abuja, to order the release of his six houses earlier seized by the anti-graft agency through a previous court order.
Opposing the governor’s application in a counter-affidavit, the EFCC gave reasons why the assets could not yet be released to him.
The EFCC said the houses located in Lagos and Abuja were seized through a court order earlier obtained on July 20, 2016.
It said the houses were seized while it was investigating the governor in relation to various offences including diversion of public funds.
The EFCC explained that it had since found out that in the course of investigating Fayose, that the houses were acquired through third parties.
It said it had identified the third parties and had moved against them.
It added that application by Fayose seeking the setting aside of the July 20 order for the seizure of the house was no longer as the houses had been discovered to have been bought by new set of people and a new order had been issued against them.
Fayose had filed the fresh application asking a Federal High Court in Abuja to vacate the July 20 order for temporary forfeiture of his houses.
The houses included four units of 4-bedroom at Chalets 3, 4, 6 and 9 Plot 100 Tiamiyi Salvage V. I. Lagos.
The rest are, 44 Osun Crescent, Maitama, Abuja and Plot 1504 Yedseram Street, Maitama, Abuja.
The EFCC said, in its counter affidavit, that its investigation had revealed that the houses were acquired through companies known as J.J. Technical Service, Spotless Investment Limited and one Mrs. Moji Ladeji.
It said at the expiration of the July 20 order given by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba (of the Federal High Court, Abuja) for 45 days, it went before another judge of the court – Justice Okon Abang – for a new order of interim forfeiture granted on November 3 this year.
The EFCC argued that in view of the new interim order of forfeiture, which is to last until the case against the new owners of the properties is concluded, Fayose’s motion now before Justice Dimgba had become an academic exercise.
The commission stated, “An order was made by this court on the 20th of July, 2016 for interim attachment/forfeiture of the properties contained in this application for a period of 45 days.
“The order has since lapsed and the respondent, upon further investigation, discovered the names through which the properties were acquired and had to proceed against those names.
“The respondent (EFCC) re-attached the properties and reapplied to this honourable court for a fresh order before Honourable Justice Okon Abang, which application was considered and granted.
“An order of interim or forfeiture is meant to preserve the res (subject matter) pending investigation or conclusion of trial.
“It is thus of interest to state that in view of the respondent’s exhibit EFCC1 (a copy of the order by Justice Abang), the order now being sought by the applicant has already been overtaking by time and event.
“The applicant’s (Fayose’s) application is thus, a pure waste of time and an academic exercise, which is based on nothing.”
The hearing of Fayose’s application was stalled on Monday as the governor’s lead lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), was absent from court.
Justice Dimgba adjourned till December 19.