Court orders interim forfeiture of Patience Jonathan’s $5.8 million
The Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday granted an ex parte application seeking interim forfeiture of $5.8 million belonging to former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
The new order followed the withdrawal of application about 24 hours after the stay of judgment which had earlier ordered Jonathan’s account unfrozen. But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) wants the sum forfeited to the federal government pending the determination of the motion on notice.
Moving the ex parte application yesterday, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo urged the court to grant the order as prayed. Justice Mojisola Olatoregun held that the order was granted as prayed.
In the new motion titled: “Action in Rem,” the EFCC sought an interim order of interim forfeiture of the sum of $5.8 million in Jonathan’s Skye Bank account.The commission also sought an order directing the interim forfeiture of the sum of N2.4 billion discovered in an Ecobank account in the name of La Wari Furniture and Bath Ltd, sums suspected to be proceeds of crime.
It also sought an order for the publication of the said order in any National Newspaper to enable any interested parties to appear and show proof why the interim order should not be made final.
In an affidavit in support deposed to by one Musbahu Abubakar, the commission averred that it received an intelligence report that funds suspected to be proceeds of crime were warehoused in a Skye Bank account in the name of Jonathan.
It said the report was analysed and found worthy of investigation adding that Jonathan opened the account on February 7, 2013. The EFCC revealed that several cash deposits were made by Jonathan in U.S. dollars through one Waripamo Dudafa, a former Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The commission disclosed that another frequent depositor of funds into the account was one Festus Iyoha, who it said was a steward at the State House, Abuja.The EFCC said that between February 8, 2013 and January 30, 2015, about $6.7 million suspected to be proceeds of crime was deposited into the account, adding that Jonathan had dissipated the funds leaving a balance of about $5.7 million.
It therefore, averred that if the funds were not forfeited in the interim, it may be fully dissipated by Jonathan. The EFCC added that the sum of N2.03 billion, suspected to be proceeds of crime was currently on fixed deposit in the account of La Wari Furniture, and another credit balance of N389 million.
The EFCC urged the court to grant the application in the interest of justice. Justice Olatoregun fixed May 15, 2017 to enable any interested party to appear and show proofs why the interim order should not be made final.
Meanwhile, a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje yesterday asked the Federal High Court, Lagos to stay proceedings in the suit seeking to forfeit the money discovered in Flat 7B, Osborne Towers in Ikoyi.
Ogungbeje is asking for an order compelling the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the police to immediately begin the investigation of the recovered monies.He also sought an order directing the EFCC to furnish the court with its findings on the source of the money, its owner and how the currencies got into the building.