Further hearing in a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at a Federal High Court in Lagos seeking final forfeiture of the sums of $8.4 million and N9.2 billion allegedly linked to a former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan to the Federal Government was yesterday stalled owing to the absence of prosecution lawyer.
New Telegraph learnt that the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, wrote the court intimating it of his engagement at the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to 12th April 2019.
It would be recalled that the presiding judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun had, on 28th February 2019 ordered that oral evidence must be given by parties in the suit.
Delivering a ruling in the matter, the judge noted that there were contradictions in the affidavit evidence of parties and, as such, oral evidence is needed by her to come to a conclusion on the matter.
A temporary order of forfeiture had on 20th April 2018 been placed on the funds after the judge granted an ex-parte motion by the EFCC in that regard.
The funds were said to be in the custody of Skye Bank Plc., Diamond Bank Plc., Stanbic IBTC Bank and First Bank Plc.
Joined, as respondents, in the suit were Patience Jonathan, five firms and one Esther Oba.
The firms that were listed as second to sixth respondents were; Globus Integrated Services Limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, Am-Pm Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited and Magel Resort Limited.
An investigator with the EFCC, Huleji Tukura, who deposed to a 15-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte motion, claimed that investigations by the anti-graft agency revealed that the funds found in the bank accounts linked to Patience emanated from the coffers of Bayelsa State.
The funds were said to have been moved at a time when Mrs. Jonathan served as a permanent secretary in one of the ministries in Bayelsa 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 account of the 1st respondent (Patience).
“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 unlawful act, into the 1st respondent’s account, using fictitious names.
“The total sum of $4,036,750, 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 million 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,” he said.
The deponent further averred 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.
The 2nd respondent was also said to have opened account number 2110002269 with Skye Bank Plc. mainly to retain proceeds of unlawful activities.
The deponent further averred that accounts were opened in the name of the 4th-6th respondents in Diamond Bank Plc. solely to retain funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
“Account No. 0016971559 was opened in the name of the 4th respondent (Am-Pm Global Network Limited) with Stanbic IBTC Bank and was used to warehouse N317,397,458.26 reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities,” the deponent said.