The outgoing governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to court for placing him on a watch list and directing that he should be arrested if he attempted to travel out of the country.
He is demanding a total of N20 billion as damages.
His grouse is that the order was a violation of his rights since he is still a governor with immunity.
According to Mr Fayose, the EFCC’s action not only breached his constitutional immunity, it also exposed him to public opium and ridicule. He said the instruction 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.
The special assistant to the governor on public communications and new media, Lere Olayinka, said in a statement issued on Tuesday, that consequent upon EFCC’s failure to accede to his demands as contained in the letter, the governor’s counsel filed the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1087/2018 in Abuja on Friday.
The EFCC had tweeted on July 16, 2018 through its official twitter handle @officialEFCC concerning Mr Fayose, saying, “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.”
The agency later deleted and disowned the tweet.
The EFCC is also seeking to investigate Mr Fayose’s link to the funding of the 2014 governorship election, which allegedly benefited from funds from the office of the national security adviser under Goodluck Jonathan.
The commission also urged other security agencies to arrest the governor if he tried to leave the country.
On September 12, Mr Fayose elected to submit himself to the commission as soon his tenure ends.
The latest statement said the court action became necessary due to the “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.”
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 portraying him as a criminal, a fugitive and a run-away from the law are not true, are malicious and 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 clothed 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.”