Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) contended on Wednesday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had no justification to freeze his Guaranty Trust Bank account with a balance of N75m.
He said the N75m was his legitimate earning, which was paid to him by one of his clients, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State.
The SAN stressed that the N75m was only a fraction of a total of N250m legal fee which Fayose owed him.
While urging Justice Abdulaziz Anka of the Federal High Court in Lagos to reverse the freezing order obtained by the EFCC on February 7, 2017, Ozekhome said, as a lawyer, it was not his business to probe the source of his client’s income from which he was paid his legitimate legal fee.
He showed the judge correspondences between him and Fayose, wherein he demanded payment of his legal fees and where Fayose, in reply, sought his (Ozekhome’s) understanding, stating that he was unable to pay at the time because the EFCC had frozen his bank accounts.
Ozekhome recalled that Fayose paid him after Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti on December 13, 2016 unfroze his accounts with the Zenith Bank.
He said Justice Taiwo also on January 31, 2017 refused the EFCC’s application to stay the execution of the December 13 judgment.
He recalled that Zenith Bank in Ekiti also allowed Fayose to withdraw N5m in cash from the account.
Ozekhome said it was wrong for the EFCC to conclude that the money paid him as legal fee by Fayose was proceeds of criminal activities by Fayose, who enjoys immunity and has not been tried or convicted.
He urged Justice Anka to lift the freezing order on his account.
But the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged Justice Anka not to grant Ozekhome’s prayer, saying the SAN ought to have known that the money paid to him formed part of proceeds of “fraudulent activities.”
“The N75million is from the proceeds of the alleged crime fraudulently taken from the ONSA and kept in Fayose’s account from where it was transferred to Ozekhome,” he said.
Justice Anka adjourned till April 3, 2017 for ruling.