A high court sitting in Abuja has prevented the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from tampering with the property of former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Justice M.M. Kolo gave the order on December 27 while ruling on a motion filed by the former governor who filed a suit on December 24 at the court for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights.
The former governor is on trial for money laundering.
He had joined in the suit as respondents the Attorney-General of the Federation, Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde and the EFCC.
He had prayed the court to grant an “interim order of court for the service of the originating process on the respondent to serve as a stay of all actions in respect of the properties: plot no 262, Cadastral Zone A02, Wuse 1 District, Abuja; plot 3192, Cadastral Zone A06, Maitama District, Abuja; plot 262, Cadastral Zone A07, No 8, Mistrata Street, Wuse II, Abuja, by the respondents, their agents, privies, representatives, or any other persons deriving his/her authority from them; either by sealing off, confisicating, eecting any persons from the territory, trespassing into the properties, or doing any other thing however so described relating to the said properties pending the hearing and determination of the motion in notice.”
The court granted the application as requested.
In an affidavit supporting his application, Sylva said the houses were acquired before his election as governor of Bayelsa State.
Hence, he said that EFCC’s attempt to seize or seal the properties was unconstitutional, oppressive, null and void as these assets had been declared in his Assets Declaration Form during his assumption of office in 2007.
A statement by his media adviser, Doifie Ola, said the EFCC was being used to harass the former governor and his family.
According to him, there were fewer people who were more persecuted in this political dispensation than Sylva, who since leaving office in January 2012 and denied a right to reelection by the Peoples’ Democratic Party, had consistently faced state persecution.
“Even his family, friends and associates have not been spared from molestation and intimidation by the EFCC,” Ola said.
He said that the EFCC is now being used to pursue Sylva’s happiness, incapacitate him and render him unable to live decently, using corruption prosecution as a cover.
He stated that on Christmas Eve, EFCC agents had perfected a shady plot to seize Sylva’s properties, including his current Abuja residence.
He said, “The same EFCC had on 10 December 2012 invaded a property used an office by Sylva’s wife and arested the manager. Before then, they had arrested and detained Sylva’s brother-in-law, Mr Tommy Richie Imoh”
Ola advised EFCC operatives to act within the ambit of the law and not reduce an all-important state institution to a mere tool for vindictive and political pursuits.