A Federal High Court Judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun on Friday slammed EFCC prosecutors, accusing them of forum shopping by filling same cases before different courts, calling such action lacks decorum.
Justice Olatoregun did not stop at the reprimand. She struck out the application of EFCC praying the court to forfeit various sums of money and properties linked to the ex first lady Dame Patience Jonathan.
The Federal judge arrived at this decision on the ground that the EFCC have one of such cases with the same issues pending before Justice Binta Nyako of Federal High Court, Abuja Dipvision.
Though the judge said that the suit against the former first lady pending before her is distinguishable from the present motion cannot go through because the order EFCC obtained in 2016 was a freezing order pending investigation which was brought under section 34 of Advanced Fee Fraud Act while the motion before her now is for forfeiture brought under section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other related offences Act.
“I find that EFCC have filed motion to withdraw the freezing order of 2016 obtained pending investigation have not been moved.
I hold that until when the motion for withdrawal on the freezing order earlier granted in 2016 is disposed, this application cannot scale through.
The judge equally told EFCC to desist from filing different suits on the same subject matter as it is in this case. She advised that forum shopping litigation should be discouraged in a legal circle. Olatoregun berated the conduct of the counsels and advice that decorum should be enshrined in the noble profession.
On a final note the judge said that EFCC should go and do the needful and accordingly, struck out the suit.
Earlier this year that EFCC filed a motion ex-parte praying for an order of interim forfeiture of the sum of $3,645,013.73 (Three Million, Six Hundred and Forty Five Thousand, Thirteen United States Dollar, Seventy Three Cent) domiciled with First Bank of Nigeria Ltd and traced to Mrs Patience Jonathan, wife of the former.
An investigating officer with the EFCC, Huleji Tukura in an affidavit placed before the court says that the account was opened while Mrs Jonathan served as the Permanent Secretary of the Bayelsa State Government.
The EFCC says that she had then procured the then Senior Special Assistant to the Former President 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 are domestic staff attached to the State House Abuja to also deposit funds into 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 we the EFCC now seeks its forfeiture to the Federal Government.
Asides this sum, the EFCC was also seeking the interim forfeiture of another $4.3m, N1.8bn, N226m, $429,381.87 cents and various other sums traced to 6 others said to have links with Mrs Jonathan.
The six others are Globus Integrated Services limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, Am-Pm Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil And Gas Limited, Magel Resort Limited and one Esther Oba who is said to be at
The court agreed with the counsel to EFCC Rotimi Oyedepo that the application was ex-parte and as such, they had no right of audience.
The lawyers staged a walk out of the court but before leaving, they made the point that the application was an abuse of court process as the EFCC had filed about 4 cases on the same subject matter before other judges of the court.
In a short ruling on the application, Justice Olatoregun directed the EFCC to file within 7days an affidavit showing that the application before him is not the subject matter of litigation before any other court.
However Justice Olatoregun in her ruling today struck out the motion for interim forfeiture and asked EFCC to do the needful
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A Report Of The Judgement Of The 16 Divisions Of The Court Of Appeal In Nigeria