COURT ORDERS EFCC, TWO BANKS TO PAY BENUE STATE GOVT N100M
By David Mzer
A Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, today ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, United Bank of Africa, UBA and Fidelity Bank to jointly pay the sum of N100 million to the Benue State government for freezing its accounts last year.
Delivering judgement in the suit number FHC/MKD/CS/46/2018
filed by the Benue State Government challenging the legality of the EFCC freezing its accounts, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon ordered the anti-graft commission to pay the Benue State Government the sum of N50 million as damages, while UBA and Fidelity are to each pay the sum of N25 million.
Justice Olajuwon stated that the Benue State government accounts that were frozen do not fall within the classes or categories of accounts liable to be frozen by the EFCC.
She declared the action of the EFCC as illegal, null and void, saying that the order issued by EFCC to the affected Banks to freeze Benue State accounts was not obtained from a Federal High Court before.
The Judge thereafter granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining EFCC from further freezing Benue State Government accounts domiciled in financial institutions.
In a reaction, the Benue State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Michael Gusa described the judgement as sound, adding that the Ortom administration believes in the rule of law and due process, and would not fail to challenge any act of illegality on the State.
It will be recalled that a few days after Governor Samuel Ortom defected from the All Progressives Congress, APC to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, EFCC ordered the freezing of the accounts of Benue State Government in UBA and Fidelity Bank on the premise that the Governor’s security vote was being investigated.
The government of the State, through the office of Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice approached the court seeking a declaration that EFCC acted against the law when it directed the banks to freeze its accounts.