EFCC Can Drag Fayose Before Code Of Conduct Tribunal – Momoh | Independent Newspapers Limited
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EFCC Can Drag Fayose Before Code Of Conduct Tribunal – Momoh

Posted: Jun 23, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (3)

Chief Tony Momoh ,  journalist and lawyer, is a former  Minister of  Information.  He spoke with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI on the controversy surrounding the freezing of the personal account of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State. Excerpts:

There has been discordant tunes amongst Nigerians over the freezing of the personal account of Ekiti state governor, Ayodele  Fayose by the Economic and Financial  Crimes Commission. While some said the anti-graft agency acted right, others said the action is illegal since the governor enjoys immunity. As a lawyer, what is your perspective on the issue?

The fact is that EFCC has powers to investigate and, if in the course of their investigation, they find materials that have been tampered with, they can take care of that material.  I have heard a lot of people saying EFCC has no powers to freeze accounts. That is not true. EFCC has powers to freeze account. If anybody doubts it, they should look at what the Supreme Court says under Gani Fawehinmi’s case vs INEC when it ruled that EFCC has power to investigate anybody in office.  Let me tell you one thing: People are overstretching this immunity under section 308 of the constitution. The immunity clause protects the president, vice-president, the governor and deputy governor during the period of office when they are expected to perform the functions of office.  Those are the defining things. They come under the immunity cover during the period when they are expected to perform the functions of office.

So are there things that a governor can do that cannot come under this functions of office for which s(he) can be investigated?

Money laundering and corruption is not part of the functions of office of a governor.   The functions of office a governor are scheduled under the 7th schedule of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and money laundering or corrupt acts are not listed there. Though a governor cannot be prosecuted in court during this period but it doesn’t imply that such a governor cannot be investigated or disciplined. Disciplining a governor can come through impeachment or, if there are incriminating materials against him, it can be forwarded to the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) which is a disciplinary body. The CCT is a disciplinary body; it is not a court and whatever the governor has done wrong can be recovered through seizure.  Part II of the 5th Schedule of the constitution which deals with the Code of Conduct listed those included as  “The President of the federation , The Vice-President of the Federation, The President and Deputy President of the Senate Speakers and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Houses of Assembly of States, and all members and staff of legislative houses.

Governors and Deputy Governors of States, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justices of the Supreme Court, President and Justices of the Court of Appeal, all other judicial officers and all staff of courts of law, Attorney-General of the Federation and Attorney-General of each State. Ministers of the Government of the Federation and Commissioners of the Governments of the States, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff and all members of the armed forces of the Federation,  Inspector-General of Police, Deputy Inspector-General of Police and all members of the Nigeria Police Force and other government security agencies established by law.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of the Civil service, Permanent Secretaries, Directors-Generals and all other persons in the civil service of the Federation or of the State. Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other officers of Nigeria Missions abroad.  Chairman, members and staff of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal, Chairman, members and staff of local government councils,  Chairman and members of the Boards or other governing bodies and staff of statutory corporations and of companies in which the Federal or State Governments or local governments councils,  All staff of universities, colleges and institutions owned and financed by the Federal or State Governments or local government councils and Chairman, members and staff of permanent commissions or councils appointed on full time basis” . It didn’t say former president or vice-president; it said President of the Federal republic because it is a disciplinary body under section 172 and 209 of the constitution .  These people are public officers who are subject to the 5th Schedule. So, people should not begin to think that the immunity clause is so total that you cannot even question any governor while in office.  You can discipline a president, vice president or governor through the  Code of Conduct  Bureau and Tribunal  when they commit any offences because as public officers,  they are subject to discipline.

So, are you saying EFCC acted right in freezing Fayose’s account even while enjoying immunity as governor?

EFCC has right to freeze Fayose’s account and if there is any disciplinary action involved, they have every right to take him (Fayose ) to theTribunal . These are areas people don’t want to investigate.  The CCT has power to hear a matter which is against any governor , his deputy, vice president and the president because they are covered only when they perform functions of office during the period of office.

Comments (3)

  • Jun 24, 2016 at 2:54 am emperior

    Thank God for Buhari.

  • Jun 23, 2016 at 12:03 pm ezeanicelestine

    Think is very clear, only that we forget in a hurry. Obnsanjo and Atiku we’re almost referred to the code of conduct tribunal while still serving as president and vice-president respectively, if not for the intervention of the senate underder Chief Ken Nnanani.

  • Jun 23, 2016 at 11:33 am OlalereTajudeen

    Gbam! So we have laws in Nigeria since all these days where people are behaving as if there is no laws. So the sayings that ”ONCE THE HEAD IS OKAY ALL OTHER PARTS OF THE BODY IS OKAY” is correct after all.We thank God for given us PMB

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