The Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed the power of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC ) has the power to freeze suspicious accounts.
The court said the anti-graft agency can direct banks to suspend operation of accounts suspected to have been used for criminal activities, or any account of into which slush funds and proceeds of crime have been deposited.
The court, however, said such a directive by the EFCC to banks must be followed by an order of a court for interim freezing, which it must obtain from a competent court, to enable it conduct investigation to ascertain the origin of the funds.
The appellate court said these in a unanimous judgment by its three-man panel on an appeal by Messrs A. R. Security Solutions Limited, which challenged the refusal by a Federal High Court in Abuja to vacate an interim freezing order earlier granted against it.
Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on January 25, 2016, granted an ex-parte application by the EFCC for, among others, an interim freezing order on A. R. Security accounts with Heritage Bank.
R Security applied to the court to have the order set aside, a request Justice Nyako, in a ruling on April 22, 2016, refused, prompting the company to approach the appellate court.
Justice Mohammed Mustapha, who prepared the lead judgment of the appellate court, resolved the sole issue raised for determination against the appellant.
The issue was whether the trial court was right to have held that the EFCC could obtain an order of court to temporarily freeze the appellant’s account, once the account is the subject of investigation.
Justice Mustapha said while the EFCC was empowered, under sections 28 and 29 of its establishment Act to trace, attach and apply for interim freezing order on such suspicious accounts, the court, under Section 44(2)(k) of the Constitution, was empowered to grant such interim injunction.
He said: “The respondent ( EFCC ) clearly bears the burden of establishing that there is a prima facie evidence that the property in issue is liable to be forfeited on account of its being proceed of crime.
“That burden is discharged once there is an arrest for an offence under the Act ( EFCC Act), and the respondent traces the assets and attaches the property of the accused person acquired as a result of economic and financial crimes. That done, the respondent is entitled to an interim attachment order by the court.”
Justice Mustapha agreed with the appellant that the EFCC must show that the origin of the suspicious funds is illegal.
He added: “If bank accounts have to be investigated with any degree of success for the purpose of tracing criminality in transactions, how else can that be done without exercising some degree of control over the account?
“It stands to logic and common sense that any serious investigation of criminality in a bank account has to first and foremost start with taking control of the bank account or at least putting restraints on the account; anything short of that will be quixotic, because funds in the account investigated will simply take a flight. That is the logic behind sections 28 and 29 of the Act.
“Prima facie proof starts, for the purpose of the Act, with arrest of the accused person for financial and economic crimes, which now denotes, at this stage, that the monies in the account are likely proceeds of crimes, and therefore, liable to forfeiture, thus necessitating the grant of the interim order.
“It is for these reasons that the money in the accounts is fair game, because that attachment and proper investigation of such accounts will assist the respondent (EFCC) in prosecuting the accused successfully or consequently lead to the discharge of the order, depending on how the investigation goes.
“The need for credible evidence, showing the money to be proceeds of crime, underscores the necessity for the respondent’s mandate to ‘immediately trace and attach’ the property.”
He added that the grant of the interim order by the court was to enable the EFCC conduct a holistic investigation on the account to enable it establish whether or not the origin of the funds in the affected account was illegal.
“It has to be pointed out that ultimately, it is for the same reason that the grant of interim order becomes necessary, as it explains the necessity for the respondent to have, not only access, but control of the account, by having it frozen, anything else might end up being pyrrhic for the respondent,” Justice Mustapha said.
Other members of the panel – Justices Abubakar Datti Yahaya and Tani Yusuf Hassan – agreed with the lead judgment a copy of which was seen by The Nation.
Oyo: Makinde Mother’s Burial Holds December
Body of Chief (Mrs.) Abigail Makinde, the mother of Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde will be interred in the first week of December.
Governor Makinde disclosed this yesterday while playing host to a delegation from the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi Ogunlade Odundun II, which was in Ibadan, the state capital to commiserate with him on the death of his mother.
The governor said he was very delighted with the visit, urging Akure people, the kingdom where his mother was born, to actively participate in her funeral.
Makinde, who described them as one of the most upright, bold and honest people in Yoruba land and the nation at large, also added that his late mother was a role model whose dedication to work, uprightness, boldness and honesty were the traits of Akure people.
A statement by Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, quoted the governor as saying “when you see an average Akure man or woman, you see courage and see people who are true to their words.”
While delivering the condolence message from the Deji of Akure, the leader of the delegation, who is the Asae of Akure Kingdom, Senior High Chief Sola Adegbonmire, described the governor’s mother as a worthy daughter of Akure Kingdom.
He stressed that the Omoregie family, where Madam Abigail Omojolagbe Makinde hailed from, is a family of exceptional and wonderful people in Akureland.
Oba Aladetoyinbo further described the death of Madam Makinde as a painful loss not only to the Makinde family but also to the entire Akure Kingdom.
He then prayed that God would grant the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
‘My mother was an epitome of love, humility’ – Gov. Makinde mourns
The Oyo state governor, Engr Seyi Makinde, has described his late mother, Chief (Mrs.) Abigail Omojolagbe Makinde, as an epitome of love and humility, despite being a disciplinarian.
The governor stated this on Friday while receiving the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by the National Chairman, Prince Uche Sencondus, on a condolence visit to his house at Ikolaba GRA, Ibadan.
According to a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the governor expressed gratitude to the PDP NWC, noting that the fact that the leadership of the party made it to Ibadan barely 24 hours after Mama’s demise showed the love they have for him.
The statement also noted that apart from the PDP NWC entourage, the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo, and Delta States, Alhaji Daud Akinola, Chief Imam of Ibadanland, Sheikh AbdulGaniyy Abubakri Agbotomokekere, the Grand Mufti of Ibadanland, Sheikh Abdul Fatai Alaga, and other Muslim leaders also paid condolence visits to the governor.
Similarly, the Oyo State Judiciary led by the Chief Justice of the state, Justice Muntar Abimbola, and the General Officer Commanding, 2 Div, Nigerian Army, Ibadan, Major General Anthony Omozoje, were also at the Makinde residence to condole with the governor.
Speaking while receiving the PDP entourage, which included the National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (retd); Deputy National Secretary; National Financial Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi MaiBasira; National Woman Leader, Hajia Mariya Waziri; National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, as well a leader of the PDP from Osun State, Hon. Soji Adagunodo, Governor Makinde said the family remains grateful to God for the life Mama lived.
He said: “I want to thank you most sincerely for this condolence visit. I want to say, on behalf of myself, my wife, immediate family, and extended family, we are very grateful and appreciative of this visit. This happened yesterday morning and you are here this morning. It shows that you truly love me. So, I want to say thank you.
“Actually, we were preparing for my mummy’s 81st birthday, which would have been on the November 7, exactly three weeks from yesterday. But who are we to question God?
“We are grateful to God for the life she lived. To us, she was an epitome of love, humility. She was tough. If you see that trait in some of us, it came from her. And we also thank God that it was not like we were carrying her from one hospital to the other. She died peacefully in her sleep. So, we thank God for what He has done.”
Governor Makinde, who also took the opportunity to appreciate the PDP NWC for the confidence it had in him to lead the Ondo State governorship campaign, said what the outcome of the election meant was that the party would have to go back to the drawing board, adding that the campaign council will submit a report as soon as practicable.
“I will also like to use this opportunity to thank the National Working Committee of our great party for the opportunity you gave to us to lead the campaign in Ondo State. We can’t question God for the outcome of that election. What it means is that we have to go back to the drawing board. We will be submitting a report of those areas where we fell short, to the NWC as soon as practicable.
“I really want to use this opportunity to thank all of you who were there in Akure for the love of our party and for the support that you gave to our candidate in Ondo State.
“Once again, my Chairman, I am appreciative of this visit and I thank you and all the members of the NWC of our party.”
Earlier, the PDP national chairman said that the visit was to condole with the governor and the family for the loss of their mother.
He said: “A time like this is the time you know those who care and those who are with you. Unfortunately, we have two situations on our hands. We lost the chairman of the party in Zamfara. Obviously, we divided ourselves; the Deputy National Chairman of the party left for Zamfara yesterday morning for the burial of our late chairman of the party. And I and the rest of us in the National Working Committee leadership decided yesterday to come to Ibadan today.
“We are here by the grace of God to console you and the rest of the members of your family. We have no other way to do it than to join you in prayers.
“It is a very painful experience that you have to go through, sometimes alone. I know what it is because I have experienced it. It is only God that can fill the vacuum in your heart because the care of a mother is quite different from that of a father.
“So, on behalf of the leadership of our party, we are here to console you on this condolence visit. The Lord will strengthen you. And because you are one of our best and doing good works for the people of Oyo State and at this time that you are giving out your best, suddenly, God who gives has taken your beloved mother.
“We are here to share the pain and sorrow with you and to let you know we will continue in prayers during this period, even as we prepare for the funeral. After the funeral, we will continue to pray for you, your immediate and larger family. It is important for us to do so, having worked with you and having seen you as a man who is compassionate and cares for others.
“Today, we are here with you and we pray that God will energise you at this period and stretch His right hand of righteousness to touch every one of the members of the family to bear this great loss.
“Therefore, as members of the National Working Committee, we pray that God will keep you now and thereafter to make you continue to do the good work for the people of Oyo State
Nigeria: Group drums support for #ENDSARS
Benchmark Group of Nigeria on Friday declared its support for the ongoing peaceful #EndSARS protests, as Nigerians speak up against police brutality.
Akanbi Bukola, founder of the group in a chat with Mega Icon Magazine said it is imperative to identify with Nigerians as protests continue around the country to end police brutality and the abuse of power by the institution established to protect its citizenry.
She noted that aside corruption and oppression from the hands of some elements of the Nigeria Police Force, “this time around, Nigerians, irrespective of faith, ethnic or political biases, must come together to eradicate police brutality once and for all in the society”.
According to her, for many Nigerians, the police has failed to fulfill its mandate of providing public security as enshrined in the constitution, adding that officers are now viewed more as predators than protectors.
Akanbi lamented further that Nigerians struggling to make ends meet are accosted on a daily basis by these officers who demand bribes and commit abuses against them as a means of extorting money.
“Those who fail to pay are usually threatened with arrest and physical harm, by those expected to protect them”, she said.
Akanbi, however called for the overall reform of the country’s police force.
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