Civil servants in Ekiti State have condemned Governor Ayodele Fayose’s alleged payment of N75 million as legal fees to a legal practitioner, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), for handling his case against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
An interest group in the state workforce, the Enlightened Workers Forum (EWF), said payment of what they called a “huge amount” on Fayose’s private case was sad, condemnable and unjustifiable at a period workers are owed six months’ arrears of salaries.
In a statement issued on Friday by EWF Coordinator, Mike Bamidele, the workers said Fayose should explain to workers and people of the state on why he shelled out N75 million as “part payment” to Ozekhome which they said has further dented the image of the state.
They wondered why they are still being owed six months’ arrears after the Federal Government had released N9.6 billion bailout, N8.88 billion and budget support funds for nine months amounting to N10 billion within a space of one year and two months.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a counter-affidavit filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos claimed that the N75 million was part of the proceeds of the alleged loot from the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).
The EFCC filed the counter-affidavit in opposition to an application by Ozekhome seeking to unfreeze his account which was blocked by the anti-graft agency.
The EFCC averred that N75 million transferred to Ozekhome’s account domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) was part of the N2.1 billion allegedly paid to Fayose from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) under Dasuki’s watch shortly before the June 21, 2014 governorship poll in Ekiti State.
But the workers said evidence given in court by former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, was a proof that the EFCC action was not politically-motivated as alleged by Fayose urging the governor to leave them (workers) out of his trouble with anti-graft body
The statement reads: “Releasing a whopping sum of N75 million to Ozekhome as part payment of legal fee in the governor’s private case with the EFCC, particularly at a time when he had bluntly refused to pay salaries and pensions.
“No matter the amount of coloration given to the case, it is not a state case; rather, it is purely a private one involving him and the EFCC and therefore should have been prosecuted with his personal fund.”
The workers recalled that Nigerians were shocked when Fayose claimed that his campaign was sponsored by Zenith Bank only for the bank to deny the claim adding that revelations from the court is a challenge to the governor that he owes Ekiti people explanations.
They said further: “By the way, what impression is Fayose trying to create in this case? Is he trying to turn to white what the whole works already knew as black? He said the money found in his account at the Zenith Bank was donated by the bank to sponsor his 2014 election but the bank promptly denied.
“The EFCC said it was his own share of the diverted N2.1 billion arms fund. Senator Obanikoro who brought the money to him did not only come out to confess but had begun to pay back his own share.
“His personal assistant corroborated the statement of the senator, the bank manager confirmed it, driver of the bullion van did same so also is the pilot of the plane that brought the money. Yet, Fayose insisted, it was his money but from what source?”