When a big customer physically visits a bank – in these days of online banking – something must be amiss. Other customers will make way for him and the staff will be on their toes. That was the scene yesterday in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, when Governor Ayo Fayose defied the rain to visit a bank where he demanded his statement of account.
Told that his account had been temporarily frozen, His Excellency was enraged. He protested and vowed to stay put in the banking hall until the matter was resolved. He was still there at 6pm. The bankers stood their ground – that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) ordered that the account be frozen.
Fayose was huffing and puffing, screaming that he had immunity and would contest the freeze. The bankers remained unmoved.
The embattled governor, who spoke with reporters at the premises of the bank located on Secretariat Road, said the action was one of the moves against him by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government.
Fayose said: “I found out that the EFCC blocked my account and the accounts of some of my associates. I see this as illegal. If you want to fight corruption, fight corruption based on rule of law.
“I’m a sitting governor and under Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution I enjoy immunity. “You must do anything you want to do within the ambit of law. This government has no respect for constitutional provisions. They should not be in a hurry; in 2018, I will be done. I will come to them myself. I have become a figure in this country that I have nowhere to go.
“This rascality of EFCC must stop. Did they not contest election? Where did they get the funds from? Is it because they are the sitting government?
“We will take every legal step to get things right; they can’t continue with this rascality.
I’m not leaving this bank until they have given me a statement confirming that because on their system they said my account is restricted by the EFCC. They must put it into writing because EFCC under the law has no power to touch my property.
“It is not new. I fight everyday and God grants me victory everyday. They want to destabilise this state, they want to take the state at all cost and it is not going to be possible. I’m on ground. I’m not going to shy away for life, death or incarceration. They will not coerce me and take away my right,” he said.
Fayose’s personal account was frozen following clues on alleged “suspicious lodgments”, a top official of the anti-graft agency said last night.
The agency said the action was part of an ongoing investigation, adding that governors have no immunity against investigation.
Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution only confers immunity on governors and some public officers against prosecution, the official added.
Although there were allegations that the frozen cash was about N1.3billion, the EFCC said it might released the figure today as part of its findings.
EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren told The Nation last night that Fayose cannot stop the anti-graft commission from doing its job.
Uwujaren said: “It is true that we have frozen Governor Fayose’s acount in connection with an ongoing investigation. We will soon release the details of our findings to the public.
“We froze the account because Fayose has no immunity against investigation.
“Let me clarify that the 1999 Constitution does not grant immunity to governors or public officers against investigation.
“The governors and others enjoying the immunity clause in Section 308 cannot be prosecuted. Therefore, Fayose cannot stop EFCC from doing its job.”
Asked if the amount in the Post No Bill ( PNB ) account was up to N1.3billion as being speculated, Uwujaren said: “Certainly, some amount was frozen in Fayose’s account but
I cannot say the exact amount till tomorrow (today).”
A top official, who spoke in confidence, said: “It became necessary to freeze the account following clues on alleged suspicious lodgments.
“We will release the facts soon to Nigerians to appreciate the extent of our investigation.”
Fayose accused the EFCC of intimidating him and vowed not to succumb.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary Idowu Adelusi and a broadcast relayed on the Broadcasting Service of Ekiti State (BSES) yesterday announced the freezing of the governor’s account.
The governor, who accused the President Muhammadu Buhari administration of running a “selective anti-corruption crusade”, alleged that the accounts of his political associates and followers were also frozen by the EFCC. But he did not give their names and details.
He also claimed that he was not informed that he had committed any offence before his account was frozen.
The governor accused some leaders of the APC and a prominent lawyer from the state of being behind the action.