Ex-First Lady Asks Court to Jail CEOs of  Three Banks for Disobedience to Court Order

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By Alex Enumah in Abuja

Former Nigerian First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to commit the Chief Executive Officers of three major banks, First Bank, Skye Bank and Diamond Bank to prison for their persistent refusal to obey the court order that lifted the embargo placed on the various bank accounts owned by Mrs. Jonathan and her family members.

Already, forms 48 and 49 which are legal process of initiating the imprisonment for flouting court order have been served on Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of First Bank; Tokunbo Abiru, CEO Skye Bank, and Uzoma Dozie, MD/CEO, Diamond Bank.

In a motion on notice brought pursuant to order 3 rule 1 of the Federal High Court, Jonathan, through her counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), is praying the court to commit the three bank chiefs to prison for deliberately refusing to comply with court order that embargo placed on the 16 bank accounts be lifted since December last year.

In the motion dated December 7 2017, the ex-first lady is also seeking an order of the court striking out a purported ‘ex parte originating summon’ filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), praying for forfeiture of all funds in the various bank accounts in the three banks to the federal government.

The grouse of Jonathan is that the purported ex parte originating summon constituted a gross abuse of court process and an attempt to undermine the earlier order of the court made in December last year de-freezing the bank accounts.

In a 20 paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, it was averred that the EFCC had on May 30, 2017, obtained an exparte order granted by Justice Binta Nyako, freezing all bank accounts traced to Mrs. Jonathan, her families and business interest.

The order made in respect of FHC/ABJ/CS/821/2016 was however to last for 90 days when the anti-graft agency was expected to have completed all investigations in respect of the bank accounts.

The affidavit deposed to by one Chinedu Maduba, a legal practitioner in the law firm of G.I. Abibo (SAN) indicated that the order placed on the bank accounts through the EFCC exparte motion was vacated in December 5, 2017, when the 90 day life span of the exparte order expired and vacated by the same Justice Nyako.

The affidavit indicated that the embargo order on the bank accounts was not renewed or extended by the court in favour of EFCC.

Mrs. Jonathan and other applicants in the motion on notice claimed that all efforts to make transaction in the three banks in compliance with the December 5, 2017, order of the court de-freezing the accounts were resisted by the chief executive officers of the three banks.

The affidavit further indicated that upon enquiry on why transactions were not allowed in the bank accounts in compliance with court order, Mrs. Jonathan and other applicants were said to have been told that EFCC had filed exparte originating summon praying for the forfeiture of all monies in the accounts.

The former first lady therefore prayed the court to jail the three bank chiefs for acting in violation of the court order which de-freeze the accounts for transactions, because there was no renewal order or extension of the embargo earlier placed on the bank accounts.

When the matter came up, it was discovered that the EFCC was not in court because it has just been served with court process which may require it time to respond.

Although counsel to the three bank chiefs were in court, Justice Nyako, however, adjourned till April 11 to enable EFCC respond to issues raised in the motion as well as appear in court.

Apart from Mrs. Jonathan, other applicants seeking to jail the three bank CEOs are Incorporated Trustees of Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, AM PM Global Network Limited, Magel Resort Limited and Incorporated Trustees of Women for Change and Development Initiative Nigeria.

Others are Transocean Property and Investment Limited, Seagate Property Development Investment Company, Globus Integrated Services and Pluto Property and Investment Company.