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What Lawyers are Saying About Fayose's Frozen Account:

His account can be frozen—Sagay

The EFCC position was affirmed by Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, SAN, who said the commission had been empowered to freeze accounts or assets of anyone under investigation.

Sagay, who hinged his assertion on a Supreme Court verdict to buttress his point, said: “If the EFCC is investigating anybody and they have reasons to believe that somebody has acquired state assets for himself, they are empowered by the law to apply to a court to freeze those assets, including banking assets, pending the enquiry and possible trial. So, they have that power.

“For a governor, it is a unique situation, but the Supreme Court has already held that even if you enjoy immunity, you are also subject to being investigated. So, that would be one of the consequences of that investigation.”

EFCC can freeze a gov’s account during investigation —Ngige

Also throwing his weight behind Sagay’s submission, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, said: “If during an investigation the EFCC discovers that a particular account has been used for money laundering, the commission has the right to freeze the account pending the outcome of the investigation. It is not touching the account but just suspending the usage of the account.

“It does not matter whether the account belongs to a governor or not. I have said in the past that the Supreme Court had ruled in a past case that immunity shields governors from arrest and prosecution but not from an investigation.

“The apex court ruled that the governors have no immunity against investigation. The commission is empowered by the law to investigate governors and if in the course of their investigation, they find that an account has been used for money laundering they can freeze it.”

Lawyer and human rights activist - Tokunbo Mumuni, said:

“The fact that the governor is in power does not mean he cannot be investigated. This has been settled in the case of Fawehinmi vs. Tinubu. However, he has immunity from any prosecution. On the issue of his frozen account, if it is true, that means the anti-graft agency must have secured a valid court order. If this is not done, the exercise remains invalid and illegal.

“If the court feels that, indeed, there is a commission of a crime relating to the account or the owner of the account, the court has the power to freeze the account pending investigation. Like I said, there must be a valid order of the court, which must be the instrument to be executed.”

No big deal on frozen account —Chukwuma

Lagos lawyer, Nnamdi Chukwuma, said: “There is nothing big or serious about the freezing of an account belonging to a state governor. If it is his personal account, he is like any other bank customer, whose transaction is subject to extant laws. However, what is big is that the account cannot be validly frozen except there is an existing court order.

“The governor cannot claim political victimization, if the EFCC got a valid court order which will be based on the averment canvassed before the court. There is no court that can grant an order without being convinced of the facts presented before it.”

It’s illegal — Ozekhome

It is illegal and unconstitutional for the account of a sitting governor to be frozen while in office. The governor enjoys immunity under Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution and for whatever purpose, his account cannot be frozen. Section 308 of the Constitution grants immunity to the governor and his deputy just as it grants immunity to the President and his vice-president.

“You cannot freeze the account of a President while he is still in office just like you cannot freeze the account of a governor while he is still in office. You can wait till he leaves office. Since he enjoys immunity, the same thing applies to his finances and all his property.

“My take on this matter is that we should be very careful so that we don’t over-stretch our democracy or overheat the polity. The last time I checked, we are supposed to be operating a constitutional democracy that thrives on the rule of law as observers of human rights and not military dictatorship. I plead with President Muhammadu Buhari to call the EFCC to order as they are making Nigeria a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community "
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