Court Unfreezes Ozekhome’s Bank Account

Court order for temporary forfeiture of bank account belonging to a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, has been vacated.
Justice Abulazeez Anka of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday, who earlier on February 7 placed the temporary freeze order, also ordered the unfreezing of the same account which has the sum of N75m.
The interim order followed an ex parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which had sought for a freeze order on the account, alleging it to be proceeds of crime.
In opposition to the freeze order, Ozekhome had filed an application, seeking an order, discharging forthwith, the interim orders made ex parte, which ordered a temporary attachment of his money for 120 days.
He had sought an order restraining the EFCC, whether by themselves or their privies, from dealing in anyway and manner as to the operation or the proprietary rights of the ownership of the account.
Delivering his ruling on Monday, Justice Anka vacated the interim freeze order, and dismissed the opposing counter-affidavit of the EFCC.
The Judge said although it was not in doubt that the said sum of money emanated from the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, Ozekhome could not be held liable.
According to him, this was because there was no restriction on the said Governor’s account before payment was made to the law firm of Ozekhome.
Justice Anka said the freeze order earlier obtained by the EFCC in respect of Fayose’s account had been vacated by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Ado Ekiti Division of the court.
The Judge said he would not be lured into sitting on appeal over counter-decisions of Justice Mohammed Idris, who ordered the freezing of Fayose’s account, and those of Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who later unfroze the account.
He held, “There is no argument whatsoever as to the source of the funds as rightly argued by learned counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo.
“The question is, can the respondent/applicant be liable for any infraction as at the time he received the amount in his account?
“His evidence was not controverted that the said proceeds were unencumbered as at 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, ordered the unfreezing of the said account belonging to Gov. Ayodele Fayose.
“In both the order and the depositions, the account was evidently and manifestly unfrozen, so such an argument, therefore, by Mr Oyedepo, Esq. cannot hold water.”
The Judge consequently held that sufficient grounds exist to reject the counter affidavit by the EFCC.

Author: News Editor

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