Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has said that Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, can be prosecuted if he is indicted by a panel set up by the military.
The report of the panel was submitted to the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, in January.
The Army said the panel recommended the compulsory retirement of two officers, that three other officers should lose their command, the prosecution of one officer for collecting financial gratification, and further investigation of nine officers by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Falana told our correspondent that if Fayose was indicted by the panel, a former secretary of the Ekiti chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, Temitope Aluko, could be used as a prosecution witness by the Federal Government.
Aluko had in a recent television interview alleged that the PDP used the military to influence the governorship poll in favour of Fayose and that the Ekiti governor received $37m from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for the election.
Falana said, “The army authorities had investigated the fraudulent governorship election purportedly won by Mr. Ayo Fayose in June 2014. It has been confirmed that it was not an election but a coup executed by armed soldiers led by one General (Aliyu) Momoh.
“The panel which investigated the shameful event has recommended the dismissal of a number of military officers and the further investigation of others by the EFCC over the money illegally collected by them for the purpose of subjecting voters to horrendous harassment and brutalisation. Captain Sagir Koli watched the whole messy show and decided to record Momoh and his accomplices.”
Falana added that once the panel report is released and the investigation of the EFCC on the alleged “N4.8bn which was criminally diverted for the election is concluded all the indicted suspects will be arrested and prosecuted”.
When asked whether Fayose can be prosecuted if indicted despite the immunity he enjoys as a governor, he said, “There is no immunity for impunity as far as electoral malfeasance is concerned. In the cases of Obi v Mbakwe, Alliance for Democracy v Ayo Fayose and Amaechi v INEC it has been established that governors cannot hide under the immunity clause to commit electoral fraud.
“By the strict interpretation of section 308 of the Constitution no court process can be issued or served on a governor. But because immunity cannot be pleaded or invoked to cover electoral fraud, elected governors are served with court processes and dragged to court to respond to allegations of electoral malpractice.”