By Onozure Dania
Lagos—The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has approached a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, in a fresh move to seize funds in 15 bank accounts allegedly linked to Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The funds, which the EFCC is seeking to seize, include $8,435,788.84 and over N7.35 billion.
EFCC had yesterday brought an ex-parte application before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, seeking temporary forfeiture of the funds.
The move was, however, interrupted by a train of Senior Advocates of Nigeria led by Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who challenged the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the ex-parte application.
The SANs told the judge that the funds, which the EFCC seeks to seize, were already subject of litigation.
But the EFCC, lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, maintained that the SANs had no right of hearing in the court since his application was an ex-parte, wondering how they got wind of the move by the anti-graft agency in the first place.
He urged the judge to disregard their appearance.
The judge upheld Oyedepo’s submission, following which the SANs left the courtroom.
Meanwhile in view of the development, the judge adjourned the case till January 23, 2018 and directed the EFCC to file an affidavit to convince her that there were no pending lawsuits relating to the funds sought to be forfeited.
In the said ex-parte application, the EFCC listed Patience Jonathan and five firms and one Esther Oba as respondents.
The firms that were listed as second to sixth defendants were Globus Integrated Services Ltd., Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd., Pagmat Oil and Gas Ltd. and Magel Resort Ltd.
The ex-parte application was supported by a 15-paragraph affidavit deposed to by an investigator with the EFCC, Huleji Tukura.
Tukura claimed that investigation by the anti-graft agency revealed that the funds found in the bank accounts linked to Patience emanated from the coffers of Bayelsa State and that the funds were moved at a time when the former First Lady served as the permanent secretary in one of the ministries in Bayelsa State.
According to Tukura, Patience 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.”
Tukura averred, “That the said Dudafa Warripamo-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 account of the first respondent (Patience).
“That in depositing the funds into the account of the first respondent, the said domestic staff, in a bid to conceal their identity, deposited the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful act, into the first respondent’s account, using fictitious names.
“The 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 account No. 2022648664 domiciled in First Bank Plc in the name of the 1st respondent.
“That on the 28th day of September, 2016, the first respondent, in dissipating the property sought to be forfeited, transferred the sum of $3,640,794.72 to the first respondent’s account No. 2031277178 domiciled in First Bank Plc.
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