Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose has slammed a N20 billion suit on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for placing him on watch list and directing that he should be arrested if he attempted to travel out of the country despite being a sitting governor conferred with constitutional immunity against any criminal proceedings. He said that the EFCC action not only breached his constitutional immunity, it also exposed him to public opium and ridicule, adding that directing that he should be arrested was anathema to the laws of the land.
In a letter by his counsel, Obafemi Adewale, dated September 3, 2018, the governor had given EFCC 72 hours to withdraw the request/directive to Security Agencies to place him on security watch list and publish a written apology to all Security Agencies in Nigeria, three National Newspapers and the Social Media. Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said in a statement issued on Tuesday, that consequent upon EFCC failure to accede to his demands as contained in the letter, Governor Fayose’s counsel filed the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1087/2018 in Abuja last Friday.
It should be recalled that EFCC had tweeted on July 16, 2018 through its official twitter handle @officialEFCC concerning Governor Fayose that “The parri is over, the cloak of immunity is torn apart and the staff broken, Ekiti Integrated Poultry/Biological Concepts Limited N1.3bn fraud case file dusted off the shelves. See you soon.”
In the suit, Governor Fayose is seeking among other things; an order of the Court mandating the EFCC to pay the sum of N20 billion as general damages to the for what he called “flagrant, deliberate, pre-meditated and reckless libel and unprovoked attack on his character and reputation and the breach of his constitutional right/immunity as an incumbent Governor.”
He demanded that the EFCC should tender a written apology, which should be circulated to all Security Agencies in Nigeria and same should be published in at least three widely read National Newspapers and through the social media. The governor is also seeking a declaration that the statements contained in the EFCC letter dated September 12, 2018, and addressed to all Security Agencies in Nigeria portrayed him as a criminal, a fugitive and a run-away from the law, and that the statements are not true, are malicious, are not fair statements.
He wants the court to further declare; “that the EFCC letter placing him on watch-list and directing his arrest on sight even while a sitting Governor is unconstitutional as same offends the clear provision of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which clothes the him with immunity against arrest and prosecution as an incumbent Governor.”
“That the tweet by the Defendant (EFCC) through its official twitter handle, which was widely circulated through social media and published on Punch Newspaper (online) of 16th July, 2018, with the particulars wordings pleaded in the Statement of Claim filed along with this Writ is not true, is malicious, is not a fair statement and presents the Plaintiff as a fraudster thereby ridiculing him and reducing him in the eyes of reasonable and right-thinking members of the society.”