A Federal High Court in Lagos, yesterday, adjourned the suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the permanent forfeiture of the sums of $8.4 million and N9.2 billion allegedly linked to former first lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan to the federal government to June 18.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun adjourned the case to enable parties in the matter filed and exchange processes.
The judge had on April 20, ordered the interim forfeiture of the sums after entertaining an exparte application filed before her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The court had specifically directed the temporary forfeiture of the sum of $3,645,013.73 domiciled with First Bank of Nigeria Ltd and traced to Mrs Jonathan, to the government.
Asides this sum, the court further ordered the interim forfeiture of another $4.3m, N1.8bn, N226m, $429,381.87 cents and various other sums traced to six others said to have links with the former first lady.
The judge, however, ordered the commission to publish the order in a national newspaper to give any interested party opportunity to come before the court within 14 days to show cause why the sums should not be permanently forfeited.
Justice Olatoregun then adjourned the suit till May 11 for continuation of hearing.
But when the case was called yesterday, counsel to the defendants, Ifedayo Adedipe and Mike Ozekhome, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), told the court that they are still filing their processes against the interim order of forfeiture.
While EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that he was just being served with an application filed by one of the respondents, Esther Oba in opposition to the suit, and that he would need time to respond.
Upon the submissions made by the lawyers, Justice Olatoregun, directed all parties to file all applications and front-load all required, which must be served on all parties before the next adjournment.
She therefore adjourned the matter till June 18, for hearing of preliminary objections and motion to discharge the interim order of forfeiture.
Patience Jonathan, five firms and one, Oba were listed as respondents in the suit.
The firms that were listed as second to sixth defendants were; Globus Integrated Services Limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, Am-Pm Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited and Magel Resort Limited.
The anti-graft agency, in an affidavit attached to the application and disposed to by one of its Investigating officers, Huleji Tukura, averred that the First Bank account was opened while Mrs Jonathan served as the permanent secretary of the Bayelsa State government.
The commission also stated that she had encouraged the then senior special assistant to the former president, Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs and Household matters, Hon Waripamo-Owei Dudafa to fund the account with proceeds of unlawful activities allegedly diverted from the Federal Government.
Dudafa, on the other hand, was said to have procured one Festus Iyoha and Arivi Peter, who are domestic staff attached to the State House, Abuja to also deposit funds in to the account by using fictitious names.
A total sum of $4,036,750.00 reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, were deposited into the account, out of which Mrs Jonathan had withdrawn the sum of $1,000,000.00 cash leaving the balance of the sum of $3,645,013.73 “which sum we, the EFCC now seek its forfeiture to the Federal Government.”
“The funds sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria are not the 1st respondent’s lawful earnings but are rather reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities”, the deponent averred.
The deponent further averred that the companies mentioned in the application were not into “any legitimate income-yielding business venture” but were rather incorporated at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) for the purpose of warehousing proceeds of unlawful activities for the former first lady.
He claimed that every now and then, domestic servants at the Presidential Villa were sent to deposit money into the companies’ accounts for Mrs Jonathan.
“The depositors into this account are domestic staff of State House, Abuja, who were used by the said Dudafa Waripamo-Owei, to deposit the funds sought to be forfeited in a bid to conceal the true origin of the funds,” Tukura said.
Making specific reference to Globus Integrated Services Ltd, Tukura said: “None of the directors of the second respondent are signatories to the said account”.
The second respondent was also said to have opened account number; 2110002269 with Skye Bank Plc, mainly to retain proceeds of unlawful activities.
The deponent further averred that accounts were opened in the name of the fourth and sixth respondents in Diamond Bank Plc solely to retain funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
“Account No 0016971559 was opened in the name of the fourth respondent (Am-Pm Global Network Limited) with Stanbic IBTC Bank and was used to warehouse N317, 397, 458 .26 reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities”, the deponent said.
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