Editor’s note: The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in what might be considered an unprecedented move froze the personal account of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state and this had left many to wonder if this bold action by the anti-graft agency is a testament of its fight against corruption or an affront step to crush opposition.
The personal account of Governor Fayose and his associates was frozen by the EFCC in a move that is becoming familiar.
The EFCC has shown through past cases that it freezes the account of persons suspected to have been enshrouded in financial corruption and money laundering.
But the question being asked in some quarters is if the seizure of the governor’s account is not connected with his constant lampooning of the Buhari led government.
The account of Femi Fani-Kayode was frozen by the EFCC two weeks before he was arrested and while Fayose as a sitting governor cannot be arrested because he enjoys immunity, the restriction placed on his account has raised eyebrow.
People are wondering why the anti-graft agency will treat a sitting governor like an ordinary citizen.
It was reported that the governor had to visit Zenith bank in Ekiti to ascertain that his account had been frozen and in his usual brazen style that he is known for caused a scene.
He said he visited the bank to confirm that his account and that of some of his associates had been frozen.
He said: “I got mind of the fact that the EFCC had placed restriction order on my personal account and that of my associates. I came here today and I have been able to see it. This action shows that this government has no respect for the constitution because I enjoy immunity under Section 308.”
The governor finally returned home and his media aide was quick to issue a statement saying the president cannot claim to be clean as his wife; Aisha Buhari is enshrouded in a bribery scandal.
Buhari did not mince words when he stated during his presidential inauguration speech that he would deal with corruption and wipe the menace out of Nigeria’s system.
While the president has been heavily criticised in his handling of economic issues, he has taken the fight against terrorism and corruption to an optimal level.
The removal of Ibrahim Lamorde from his position as EFCC chairman signalled the president’s attempt to rid the agency of any scandal and this was followed with the appointment of Ibrahim Magu, a relatively unknown deputy commissioner of police and one of Nuhu Ribadu’s henchmen.
In less than a year, he had investigated and prosecuted high profile Nigerians suspected of corruption.
He has also been able to get suspects to return some of their loots with the office of the Ministry of Information confirming that about N3 trillion has been retrieved so far.
Magu famously claimed that before anyone is invited by the anti-graft agency, the commission would have concluded its investigation and the likelihood of the suspected coming out of the case clean is close to zero.
What this means that the EFCC is almost certain that every of its suspect is guilty of monetary crime.
While the EFCC has not officially released a statement on why the Ekiti state’s governor’s account was frozen, there are strong indications that N500m was transferred from Sambo Dasuki to his Zenith bank account which was part of N1.2 billion Ekiti election fund.
It was reported that the office of the national security adviser was used to channel money that was used to rig the state election which was between Fayose who later emerged as eventual winner and Kayode Fayemi, the then incumbent governor.
While the EFCC is not saddled with the responsibility of treating electoral irregularities or investigating political engagement, management or mismanagement of the country’s fund is its priority and bring the perpetrators of financial crime to book is very important especially in Buhari’s administration.
Fayose has been the unofficial spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party and arguably the number one critic of the Buhari administration.
Even before Buhari was elected president, Fayose had shown that he was staunchly against Buhari. He infamously sponsored a front-page advertorial on some Nigerian newspapers where he warmed Nigerians not to vote Buhari as they risk another presidential death.
Fayose’s criticism waxed stronger when Buhari was elected president and hardly a day went by without a statement from the Ekiti state governor criticising and condemning the action (or inaction) or the president.
Shortly after the president travelled to China, Fayose wrote a letter to President Xi Jinping asking him not to grant Nigeria loan.
He even travelled to China too on the guise of supposedly attending a business trip.
The number of PDP members who served during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan that have been investigated ir arrested by the EFCC has raised concern over whether the agency is used to intimidate the opposition rather than fight corruption.
While about N3 trillion has reportedly been collected from looters, ( a large percentage suspected to be from PDP members), there is still a (coincidental) trend in how vocal critics of the president have been investigated.
Olisa Metuh who was the spokesperson of the PDP was arrested although he later agreed to return N400 million he collected from Sambo Dasuki, the former national security adviser who was alleged to have been the unofficial fund distributor of the PDP.
Fani Kayode’s detention has also raised suspicion considering that he was also a strong critic of the APC and the presidency.
While the EFCC has established that it has a right to investigate suspicious transfer of money and that it was not a violation of Governor Fayose’s right, the unprecedented action and its legal implication makes raises the question about whether the EFCC is ardently fighting corruption or has become a tool to silence opposition.
Do you think the EFCC has a right to freeze Governor Fayose’s account or it’s a witch-hunt?
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