Presidency faults Fayose linking Aisha Buhari to William Jefferson’s bribery scandal
• President’s wife threatens legal action
• Lawyers, rights activist, group disagree on freezing of Ekiti gov’s account by EFCC
The Presidency has dismissed as laughable the attempt by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State to link President Buhari’s wife, Aisha, to United States (U.S.) Congressman, William Jefferson’s bribery scandal for which the American lawmaker was convicted in 2009.
In a statement yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said ordinarily the Presidency would have ignored Fayose because he is a man “childishly obsessed with the desire to grab the headlines and insulting people at will because of his incurably boorish instincts.”
He, however, said that the Presidency chose to respond on this occasion for the sake of innocent Nigerians who might be misled by Fayose’s “shameless and blatant distortion of facts.
According to Shehu, Aisha had no direct, indirect or the remotest connection with William Jefferson’s corruption scandal in the U.S.
He, therefore, challenged Fayose to tell Nigerians if the so-called Aisha “whose pictures he proudly, but ignorantly shared, was the same Aisha married to President Muhammadu Buhari, or if the Aisha of his idle imagination had any relationship by blood or any relationship in whatever form with President Buhari’s wife.”
Shehu also asked Fayose to produce evidence from the records of investigation and subsequent trial of Jefferson to prove that Buhari’s wife, Aisha, was in anyway linked to that scandal.
In another development, as reactions continue to trail the recent freezing of the personal account of Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a constitutional lawyer and former National Secretary, Labour Party (LP), Dr. Kayode Ajulo, has described it as illegal.
Noting that as a sitting governor, Fayose enjoys immunity till the determination of his office as governor of a state in Nigeria, Ajulo stressed that by the provision of Section 308 (1) (a) of the Constitution, no suit can be instituted against Fayose and/or any Nigerian governor in any court in Nigeria.
“It is the law that to freeze an account, there must be an order of court for the attachment of the bank account.
“It is also trite that for the court to make such order, there must be papers (court process) filed in court and signed by the Judge.
“Therefore, no process of court can be issued, signed or served against Ayodele Fayose in his personal capacity, whereas the bank account in question is his personal account as such in his personal name.”
Besides, two Ilorin-based Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), John Olusola Bayesheia and Abeny Mohammed, yesterday expressed divergent views over the freezing of personal account of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State by the EFCC.
In separate interview with The Guardian in Ilorin, while Bayesheia said the EFCC action could be right if a case of diversion of public funds into a private account had been established against the governor by the anti-graft agency, Mohammed, who said he was yet to access the facts of the EFCC action as at the time of the chat, however faulted the body as no account could have been frozen without a court order to that effect.
Bayesheia, while underscoring the import of the immunity granted the governor while serving in office, said the clause should not foreclose the fact that the governor could be investigated, but not to be tried or arrested.
According to him: “The agency (EFCC) must have its reasons for its action on Fayose’s account.
Don’t forget that the era of impunity is over in Nigeria. Besides, his immunity as a governor does not cover him if there is a reason to suggest that he’s diverted public funds into his private account or of that of anybody. The immunity means that he can’t be arrested or prosecuted but can be investigated.”
According to Mohammed: “I am yet to grasp the rationale for the EFCC’s action against Governor Fayose. But if I may comment on the surface level, I want to fault the action of the body.
“Firstly, there must have been a court order before such an account could be frozen. Besides, it looks unprecedented as no court seems to have issued anything of sort against any serving governor of a state.
“Secondly, he must first have been accused of some wrongdoings and given room to adjust failure of which could have led to the EFCC’s action against him. So, it is humiliating and shocking that such thing is happening under a supposedly democracy. He was treated like a common criminal. It was an extreme measure and therefore should be condemned. But I pray we are not moving towards another dangerous situation in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, a renowned human rights activist and Executive Chairman, Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ), Mr. Adeniyi Alimi Sulaiman, has warned the President and Commander-in-Chief, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, against returning the country to the era of despotic military rule of 1984-1985 where the government was the almighty.
Sulaiman also said that the anti-graft agency lacked power and right to freeze any sitting governor’s bank account, saying that Section 308 of the amended 1999 Constitution has covered the sitting President/Vice President and Governor/Deputy- Governor from criminal offences.
Reacting to the development , Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice(CHRSJ), in a statement issued by it’s Directorate of Media and Research, which was made available to newsmen yesterday, said that EFCC had gone beyond its boundary on this matter.
CHRSJ chief Comrade Adeniyi Alimi Sulaiman who described the action of the EFCC as “illegal, anathema, abomination, unconstitutional, undemocratic, evil, ungodly, satanic and crime against God and humanity,” stressed that many governors, including Fayose, were not saints as all of them have soiled their hands with public funds in one way or the other.