23 November 2012

Nigeria: Court Refuses EFCC Request to Seize Fayose's Passport

Ado-Ekiti — The Federal High Court in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, yesterday turned down the prayer of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to seize the international passport of a former governor of the state, Mr Ayodele Fayose, who is standing trial for alleged money laundering.

The prosecution counsel, Mr. Adeniyi Adebisi, told Justice Adamu Hobon, who was hearing the trial afresh that the former governor has consistently held on to his international passport contrary to the earlier pronouncement of the court that the passport should be deposited in the custody of the court.

He argued that one of the conditions reached to secure bail for Fayose on January 26, 2008, after his detention at the EFCC office in Lagos was that his international passport should be deposited in the court's custody pending the determination of the case.

But Justice Hobon ruled that the status quo should remain since no case of abuse had been reported against the former governor by the anti-graft agency.

Counsel to Fayose, Mr. Ajayi Owoseni, had earlier countered the position of the prosecution counsel on his prayer for the seizure of the former governor's passport.

Owoseeni, who held brief for the principal attorney to Fayose, Chief Kunle Kalejaye, said there was no reason for the prosecution to bring up such an argument. Owoseeni added that the court permitted the former governor to be in possession of the passport on health grounds to enable him to travel abroad for periodic medical checks.

But Fayose pleaded not guilty to all the charges when the court's clerk read them to him. In the new charges, the anti-graft agency averred that Fayose at various times in 2004 conspired with Biological Concept Nigeria Limited and Avian Specialists Nigeria Limited, consultants to the state government in the Ekiti State Integrated Poultry Project to convert the state funds to personal use. The case has been adjourned to January 24, 2013.

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