The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has upheld an order of interim forfeiture of the sums of $5.8 million and N2.4 billion belonging to a former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, to the Federal Government.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court in Lagos had on April 26, 2017, gave the directive while granting an ex-parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The order was granted a day after the anti-graft agency withdrew an application seeking a stay of execution of the court’s judgement which had earlier unfrozen Jonathan’s account.
Dissatisfied, the former First Lady through her lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), lodged an appeal at the appellate court asking that the lower court’s order be set aside. In the notice of appeal, Jonathan’s lawyer urged the Court of Appeal to declare as unconstitutional the provisions of Sections 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006, through which the antigraft agency secured the interim forfeiture order.
However, in a ruling yesterday, the Court of Appeal presided over by Justice Mojeed A. Owoade, upheld the lower court’s interim forfeiture order of the funds.
The appellate court declared that the constitutionality of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 is not in doubt. In the ex-parte application titled, “Action in Rem” the anti-graft agency is seeking an interim order directing interim forfeiture of the said money found by the EFCC in the Skye Bank account of Mrs. Jonathan.
The commission is also seeking an order directing the interim forfeiture of the sum of N2.4 billion discovered in an Ecobank account with the name, ‘La Wari Furniture and Bath Limited’, which sum is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
EFCC is also asking the court to direct the publication of the order in a national daily to enable any interested party to appear and show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the government.
In an affidavit in support of the application 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 that was opened on February 7, 2013, in the name of Patience Jonathan.