Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered 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.
Justice Olatoregun, who made the order while delivering judgment on an application filed before her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), held that the former first lady failed to show reasonable cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited.
The judge found that the funds as claimed by the EFCC was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
The court also held that it found no reason in the affidavit filed by Mrs Jonathan to show cause why the monies found in the various bank accounts should not be qualified as proceeds of unlawful activities and same not to be forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria.
Justice Olatoregun stated that the respondents, “failed to dispel the suspicion created by the movement of the monies within the meaning and contemplation of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences Act, coupled with the various extrajudicial statements of the Bureau De Change agents which were not controverted by the respondents.
“In all of this, taking into consideration the overwhelming evidence provided by the applicant, the mode, the circumstances and the manner involved, using fictitious names, etcetera, to lodge monies in her name by named and unnamed individuals and BDCs, I cannot come to a conclusion by any sense of responsibility that these monies are proceeds of lawful activities within the meaning and contemplation of the provisions of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences Act 2006; the Money Laundering Act 2004 and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 2004 and other laws enforceable under the EFCC Act 2004.”
Accordingly the same funds reasonably suspected to be proceed of unlawful activities as defined in section 16 of Advance free fraud and related offences Act and the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004, are hereby forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria.
LEADERSHIP recalls that Justice Olatoregun, had on April 20 ordered the temporary forfeiture of $3,645,013.73 domiciled with a commercial bank and traced to Mrs Jonathan to the government.
Asides this sum, the court further ordered the interim forfeiture of another $4.3m, N1.8 billion, N226m, $429,381.87 cents and various other sums traced to six others said to have links with the former first lady, Mrs Jonathan, five firms and one Esther Oba listed as respondents in the suit.
The firms 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 officer, Huleji Tukura, averred that the bank account was opened while Mrs Jonathan served as the permanent secretary of the Bayelsa State government.
The commission also stated that she had procured 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 were 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 (Four Million, Thirty Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifty United States dollar) 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 the EFCC now seeks 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.
But Mrs. Jonathan through her lawyers, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Mike Ozekhome (SAN) had urged the presiding judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun to refuse the application for final forfeiture on the grounds that sufficient facts had not been placed before the court to warrant a final order.
The former first lady’s lawyers also played video evidences in open court to convince the judge that the monies were made legitimate by the respondents in the case in the course of running their legitimate businesses.
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