Court orders forfeiture of cash belonging to former First Lady

court gavel

Court gavel

Dame Patience Jonathan

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered a temporal forfeiture of $5.8 million belonging to a former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, to the Federal Government.

The order followed the ex parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), seeking the forfeiture of the amount to government, pending the determination of the motion on notice.

Moving the ex parte application, counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to grant the order as prayed.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun held: “order is granted as prayed.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court order came barely 24 hours after the EFCC withdrew an application for stay of prosecution of the court’s earlier ruling, unfreezing Jonathan’s account.

NAN recalls that Olatoregun had sometimes in November, 2016 granted a forfeiture order of the said sum following an application by the commission.

The court, however, issued another order in March, vacating the earlier one.

The vacation of the order followed an application by Jonathan’s counsel, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), who had challenged the propriety of the EFCC’s action.

In the new motion titled “Action in Rem,” the commission sought an order for interim forfeiture of the said $5.8 million lodged in the Skye Bank.

The commission also sought an order directing the interim forfeiture of N2.4 billion discovered in an EcoBank account in the name of La Wari Furniture and Bath Ltd, suspected to be proceeds of crime.

It further sought for the publication in any national newspaper, of the said order, to enable any interested party to appear and show why the interim order should not be made final.

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In an affidavit, the commission averred that it received an intelligence report that funds suspected to be proceeds of crime were warehoused in a Skye Bank account belonging to Jonathan.

It said that the report was analysed and found worthy of investigation, adding that the ex- First Lady opened the account on February 7, 2013.

According to the commission, several cash deposits were made by the ex- First Lady in United States Dollars, through Waripamo Dudafa, a former aide to ex- President Goodluck Jonathan.

The commission averred that another frequent depositor of funds into the said account was one Festus Iyoha, a steward in the State House, Abuja.

READ: EFCC arraigns Jonathan’s doctor

The EFCC said that between February 8, 2013 and January 30, 2015, about $6.7 million suspected to be proceeds of crime were deposited into the account.

According to the commission, Jonathan had dissipated the funds, leaving a balance of about $5.7 million.

The commission further averred that if the fund was not forfeited in the interim, it may be fully dissipated by Jonathan.

It added that N2.03 billion, suspected proceeds of crime, was currently on fixed deposit in the account of La Wari Furniture, in addition to a credit balance of about N389 million.

The commission urged the court to grant the application in the interest of justice.

Granting the order, Justice Olatoregun adjourned the case till May 15, to enable any interested party to appear and show cause why the interim order should not be made final.

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