Patience Jonathan

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday ordered parties file affidavits on what transpired at the appellate courts in a forfeiture case initiated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against ex-First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, on April 26, 2017, ordered the temporary forfeiture of $5.7million and N2, 421,953,522.78 allegedly belonging to Mrs. Jonathan.

She made the order based on an ex-parte application by EFCC.

The N2.4billion was found in an Ecobank Nigeria Ltd account numbered 2022000760 in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd, the commission said.

Following the temporary forfeiture, Mrs. Jonathan, through her lawyer Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), appealed.

The Court of Appeal, last January 12, upheld the temporary forfeiture.

Dissatisfied, Mrs. Jonathan appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, on March 15, affirmed the Court of Appeal judgment, directing the appellant to return to before Justice Olatoregun to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The Supreme Court also rejected her prayer to strike down the provisions of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, which EFCC relied on in filing the application.

On Thursday, Adedipe informed Justice Olatoregun about developments at the Supreme Court.

The judge then directed parties to file the affidavits.

EFCC said it found the $5.7million in an account numbered 2110001712 with Skye Bank Plc in Mrs. Jonathan’s name.

In an affidavit in support of the ex-parte originating summons, an EFCC operative, Musbahu Yahaha Abubakar, said Mrs. Jonathan opened the Skye Bank account on February 7, 2013.

“Upon the opening of the account, several huge cash deposits in dollars were made to the account.

“One Dudafa Waripamo Owei who was the Senior Special Assistant to the former President was one of the frequent depositors in the account.

“Another frequent cash depositor of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities into the account is one Festus Iyoha, a steward at the State House, Abuja,” the deponent said.

The EFCC investigator said Iyoha also made deposits with fictitious names.

Abubakar said between February 8, 2013 and January 30, 2015, the sum of $6,791,599.64 suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities was deposited into the account in cash.

He said Mrs Jonathan had dissipated part of the funds, leaving a balance of $5,731,173.55.

“If this fund is not forfeited in the interim, the operator of the account, Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan, will fully dissipate it,” the investigator said.

On the N2.4billion, the operative said the commission also traced the money to the Ecobank account following suspicions that it was proceeds of crime.

He said the “purported” signatory to the account was one Ada Ifegbu, with a telephone number belonging to one Esther Oba.

The EFCC operative said the N2.4billion “were substantially the naira equivalent of the United States Dollars given to one Chima Nwafor John of Ecobank Nigeria Ltd by one Esther Oba at the Aso Rock Villa.”

He said it was John who contracted bureau de change operators to convert the money to naira and deposit it to La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd’s account.

Justice Olatoregun adjourned until May 8.

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