De-freezing order: SERAP to Fayose: Stop wilful abuse of court process, go on appeal

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has accused Governor Ayodele Fayose of “forum shopping and a wilful and brazen abuse of court process by obtaining a de-freezing order from the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti, a court of coordinate jurisdiction with the Federal High Court, Lagos, instead of going on appeal before a higher court in the hierarchy of courts.”

In a statement today by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni the organization said that, “What Mr Fayose has done is not only playing politics with judicial power but also squandering scarce judicial resources.”

The statement reads in part: “Mr Fayose can’t dangle the order obtained from Justice Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti as the ‘talisman’ to set aside an earlier order by Justice M.B. Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos, as it is clear that they are courts of coordinate jurisdiction.”

“SERAP believes that Mr Fayose cannot use the order by Justice Taiwo to ward off the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from carrying out investigation on allegations of corruption and money laundering against him, as this is not at all covered by Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) on immunity. The case of Uwazuruike vs. Attorney General of the Federation (2008) 10 NWLR makes it clear that the order of a court of coordinate jurisdiction like that of the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti cannot affect the proceedings before the Federal High Court, Lagos.”

“The persistent attempts by politicians to engage in forum shopping by seeking the most favourable order to set aside an earlier order of a court of coordinate jurisdiction amount to a wilful abuse of court process. Such practices if not stopped will have grave consequences for the rule of law and the integrity of the judiciary in the country.”

“Allowing the politicians to abuse the process of court and play politics with the judiciary tends to cash the judiciary in an unfavourable light, thus leaving judges at the mercy of the political class. SERAP therefore advises the National Judicial Council (NJC) not to allow politicians to continue to use judges to grant conflicting orders only for the politicians to turn around to accuse judges of corruption. We urge the NJC to urgently address the problem of forum shopping and restore sanity to the judicial process and public confidence in the judiciary by considering review of relevant rules and practice directive.”

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