Court orders parties to bring witnesses in forfeiture of N9.2bn, $8.3m linked to Patience Jonathan

Court orders for oral evidence in final forfeiture suit against Patience Jonathan

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of Federal high court Lagos, on Thursday, ordered that witnesses be produced to give oral evidence in a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking for an order to forfeit the sum of N9.2bn and $8.3m linked to Ex first Lady Patience Jonathan.
“I have stated here that the right of parties in this suit cannot be determined by affidavit evidence unless the oral testimonies are heard.”
“I hereby order parties to call upon their witnesses so that the right of parties can be determined one way or the other,” she ruled.
Justice Olatoregun had earlier in the judgement dismissed preliminary objections filed by Patience Jonathan and her co-defendants that the temporary forfeiture made in May 2018 is an abuse of court process.
“I hold that this suit was filed under section 17 of Advanced free fraud and related offences Act which action in realm thereby can not constitute and abuse.
Consequently, the judge adjourned to 13 and 14 of March for oral evidence.
Nigerian Tribune recalls that Justice Olatoregun had in May 2018 granted temporary forfeiture of N9.2 billion and $8.4 million linked to the embattled former First lady.
The judge made the order on the application filed and argued by counsel to the anti-graft agency, EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, on April 20, 2018.
The funds were said to be in the custody of Skye Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank and First Bank Plc
The judge also directed EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper within 14 days of this order and that the respondent is served with the order.
Listed alongside Mrs Jonathan as respondents in the suit include one Esther Oba and five companies – Globus Integrated Services Limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, Am-Pm Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited and Magel Resort Limited.
Huleji Tukura, an EFCC investigator, who deposed to a 15-paragraph affidavit in support of the application, claimed that investigations by the agency showed that the funds found in the bank accounts linked to Mrs Jonathan emanated from the coffers of the Bayelsa State Government.
The funds, he said, were moved when the former first lady served as a permanent secretary in one of the ministries in the state.
According to Tukura, Mrs Jonathan first opened a First Bank account and then “procured” the then Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, to fund the account with “proceeds of unlawful activities.”
“The said Dudafa Waripamo-Owei procured one Festus Isidohomen Iyoha and Arivi Eneji Peter who were domestic staff attached to the State House, Abuja, to deposit the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, into the account of the 1st respondent (Mrs Jonathan).
“In depositing the funds into the account of the 1st respondent, the said domestic staff, in a bid to conceal their identity, deposited the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful act, into the 1st respondent’s account, using fictitious names.
“The total sum of $4,036,750.00 reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, were deposited into account No. 2022648664 domiciled in First Bank Plc in the name of the 1st respondent.
“On the 28th day of September 2016, the 1st respondent, in dissipating the property sought to be forfeited, transferred the sum of $3,640,794.72 to the 1st respondent’s account No. 2031277178 domiciled in First Bank Plc.“On the 5th day of October 2016, the 1st respondent withdrew the sum of $1,000,000.00 cash from the said account leaving the balance of the sum of $3,645,013.73 which sum we are urging this honourable court to forfeit in the interim to the Federal Government of Nigeria
“As at the time the various sums were deposited in into exhibit EFCC01, the 1st respondent was a serving permanent secretary in the employment of the Bayelsa State 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 stated 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 said domestic servants at the Presidential Villa were regularly sent to deposit money into the companies’ accounts for Mrs Jonathan.
“The depositors into this account are the domestic staff of State House, Abuja, who was procured 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,” Mr Tukura said.
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