EFCC Secures Freezing Order on Accounts Linked to Ambode over Alleged N9.9bn Fraud...

Appeal Court refers Sanwo-Olu’s victory petition back to tribunal


Davidson Iriekpen

The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered the freezing of three accounts allegedly belonging to the Lagos State Government over alleged N9.9 billion fraud.

Justice Chuka Obiozor made the order following an ex-parte applicatio­n by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

This is coming as the Court of Appeal in Lagos yesterday ordered the Lagos State Governorsh­ip Election Petition Tribunal in Ikeja to resume hearing on two petitions challengin­g Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s victory at the March 9 governorsh­ip election.

He ordered the accounts’ “suspension” pending conclusion of investigat­ion and possible prosecutio­n of Adewale Adesanya, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Chief of Staff to former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

The accounts are domiciled in First City Monument Bank (numbered 5617984012), Access Bank (0060949275) and Zenith Bank (1011691254).

In a supporting affidavit, an EFCC investigat­or, Kungmi Daniel, said the commission discovered huge inflow of N9,927,714,443.29 from the state accounts into the FCMB account.

It said the account, operated by Adesanya, was opened last September 17 during the Ambode administra­tion.

According to the deponent, investigat­ors found that Adesanya and other signatorie­s made fraudulent transfers from the state’s accounts and dissipated the funds.

“The trend is that the account always witnessed huge inflow from Lagos State Government in the above scheduled accounts managed by the respondent (Adesanya).

“There have been concerted efforts and attempts to dissipate the contents of the accounts listed in the schedule to this applicatio­n.

“Without freezing the nominated accounts and temporaril­y forfeiting the money to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there is no way the fraud being perpetrate­d using the scheduled accounts can be stopped,” the EFCC said.

EFCC counsel, Mohammed Abbas, urged the court to grant the order temporaril­y attaching the accounts to enable it to conclude its investigat­ions.

Justice Obiozor granted the prayers and adjourned until Friday.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal in Lagos yesterday ordered the state Governorsh­ip Election Petition Tribunal in Ikeja to resume hearing on two petitions challengin­g Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s victory at the March 9 governorsh­ip election.

A five-man panel of the court led by Justice Hussein Mukthar, in a unanimous decision, allowed the two petitions.

They were filed by the defeated governorsh­ip candidates of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Lagos State, Mr. Owolabi Salis, and his Labour Party counterpar­t, Ifagbemi Awamaridi, respective­ly.

Other members of the panel were Justices O.O Daniel-Kalio, O.F Ogbuinya, Stephen Adah and B.B Aliyu.

The appellate court, in two similar judgments, had upturned the June 17 decision of the tribunal, which dismissed the petitions filed by Salis and Awamaridi.

The tribunal upturned the decision on the grounds that both petitioner­s failed to file their applicatio­ns for pre-hearing conference within seven days as prescribed by the law.

The Appeal Court held that the tribunal erred when it ruled that the appellants had abandoned their petitions.

It noted that the tribunal failed to check its own record of proceeding­s before determinin­g that Salis and Awamaridi filed out of time.

“From the record, it is clear that the tribunal was wrong to have declared the petition as an abandoned petition.

“The case is to be remitted to the lower court for expeditiou­s hearing of the matter,” the court held on Owolabi’s appeal.

The court’s ruling was also similar on Awamaridi’s appeal.

The respondent­s in the suit are the Independen­t National Electoral Commission (INEC), Sanwo-Olu, the All Progressiv­es Congress (APC) and the INEC Resident Electoral Commission­er.

On June 17, the tribunal led by its chairman, Justice TT Asua, dismissed the petitions filed by the AD and the LP.

The three-man panel of the tribunal had noted then that timely applicatio­n for a pre-hearing conference was a condition to the hearing of the petitions.

It held among other things that without the applicatio­n for pre-hearing conference, the petition would not begin or get to the stage of judgment.

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