Justice Abdulaziz Anka, of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday lifted the order barring a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, from accessing his Guaranty Trust Bank account.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had claimed that the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, had paid a legal fee of N75m into.
EFCC had in February 2017, obtained an interim order barring the Senior Advocate from accessing the N75m in the account, saying it was part of alleged corrupt proceeds.
The anti-graft agency had alleged that the N75m which Fayose paid to Ozekhome was part of the N2.26bn arms procurement funds, which a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), allegedly looted.
Against this backdrop, Justice Anka had on February 7 frozen Ozekhome’s account for 120 days.
Ozekhome, however, approached the court praying for the interim order to be lifted.
Granting Ozekhome’s prayer, Justice Anka, in her ruling said though it was not in doubt that the N75m came from Fayose, the senior Advocate could not be held liable because there was no restriction on Fayose’s account as of the time the N75m was paid to his law firm.
Justice Anka held, “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 Chief Mike Ozekhome.
“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.”