Appeal Court upholds interim forfeiture of Patience Jonathan’s $5.8m, N2.5b
The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, yesterday, upheld the order of interim forfeiture of the sum of $5, 842, 316.66 and N2, 421, 953, 522.78 traced to the accounts of the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, to the Federal Government.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Lagos, had on April 26, last year, granted an order of interim forfeiture of the sum N5, 842, 316.66 traced to her account number 211001712, domiciled with Skye Bank Plc, on the grounds that the money was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
The Judge had also granted an order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N2, 421, 953, 522.78, surreptitiously kept by Mrs. Jonathan in an account number 202200760, domiciled with Eco Bank Plc, in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Limited.
The order came following an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
An operative of the Commission, Musbahu Abubakar, who deposed to the affidavit, had told the court that the former first lady opened the Skye Bank account on February 7, 2013.
Abubakar had also told Justice Olatoregun that the former First Lady made several United States (US) Dollars cash deposits into the account through a former special assistant to her husband, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, and a State House steward, Festus Iyoha.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, who moved the application for the temporary forfeiture, had prayed the court to urgently freeze the account, so as to prevent Mrs. Jonathan from moving the funds.
In her ruling, Justice Olatoregun granted the prayers of the EFCC and directed Mrs. Jonathan to show cause why the money should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
However, in a bid to set aside the ruling, the former First Lady, through her team of lawyers, led by both Mike Ozekhome (SAN), and I.A. Adedipe, approached the appellate court to set aside the order of the lower court.
Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyers also urged the Court of Appeal to declare as unconstitutional, the provisions of Sections 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006.
But yesterday, the appellate court, presided over by Justice Mojeed A. Owoade, upheld the constitutionality of Section 17 and the order of the interim forfeiture of the various sums of money belonging to Mrs. Jonathan.