Former first lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan has urged a Federal High Court in Lagos to strike out an ex-parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking temporary forfeiture of the sums of $8,435,788.84 and N7.35billion linked to her.
Mrs. Jonathan is also asking the court presided over by Justice Mojisola Olatoregun for an order striking out the motion filed last December 13 on the ground that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear it.
She further maintained that the anti-graft agency’s motion is “a gross abuse of court process” because the issues were already pending before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
“The ex parte originating summons filed by the EFCC amounts to forum shopping, thus an abuse of court process,” she said.
Through her lawyer Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mrs Jonathan said the same application had earlier been filed by the EFCCC before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the court’s Lagos division, upon which it had obtained an exparte order.
She said the same application was before Justice Nyako “over same parties to be affected by this same application.”
The former first lady said EFCC allegedly failed to disclose the different suits and orders made prior to filing the application before Justice Olatoregun in Lagos.
“The respondent is making great mockery of this judicial system and in extension this honourable court,” Mrs Jonathan said.
In a supporting affidavit, a lawyer in Ozekhome’s chambers, Chimaobi Onuigbo, said EFCC knowing that its application had been challenged in Abuja, filed the one in Lagos.
“The respondent upon knowing that their application had been challenged has come to this court to seek same relief over same accounts and parties that it has filed same application against in all the suits already mentioned.
“They have never been invited, investigated, charged or convicted by any court after same accounts have remained freezed for over one year and two months.
“I know that the applicant will never disclose these gross abuse of the judicial process of this court to this honourable court as this same matter is pending before four different courts of concurrent jurisdiction,” the deponent said.
The respondents in EFCC’s motion are Mrs Jonathan, Globus Integrated Services, Finchley Top Homes Ltd, AM PM Global Network Ltd, Pagmat Oil and Gas Nig. Ltd, Magel Resort Ltd and Esther Oba.
EFCC lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo had at the last hearing informed Justice Olatoregun that he had filed an affidavit showing that all monies seeking to be forfeited were not subject of litigation in any court.
He said the coast was clear to hear the forfeiture application, adding: “The application we filed in Lagos is for forfeiture and it is not pending before any court other in Nigeria.”
EFCC said the funds, which it believes were diverted from Bayelsa State, were found in 15 bank accounts linked to the Mrs. Jonathan.
According to the commission, the funds were allegedly moved from Bayelsa State’s coffers when Mrs. Jonathan served as permanent secretary.
The Commission alleged that she gained access to the funds by fraudulently assuming the identity of one Esther Oba as the signatory to the accounts.
Hearing was stalled in the case yesterday due to Justice Olatoregun’s absence.
The case is coming up for hearing today.
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