Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Federal High Court in Abuja will on April 30 decide whether it will grant the request of the federal government for temporary forfeiture of two properties belonging to the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Presiding judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, gave the date on Wednesday in Abuja, after counsel to parties in the matter adopted and argued their written addresses.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on October 20, 2017, approached the court for an ex parte order, seeking the temporary forfeiture of properties at plot No. 1758, Cadastral Zone, B06 Mabushi and Plot No.1350, Cadastral Zone, A00 Central Business District, Abuja, linked to the former first lady to the federal government.
In the application, the complainant/applicant is praying for â€œan order of interim attachment/forfeiture of the assets and property set out in the schedule attachedâ€ to the suit.
â€œAn order stopping any disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale or alienation or otherwise of the property/asset described in the attached herein.
â€œAn order authorising the EFCC to appoint competent person(s)/firm to manage the asset/property listed in the schedule herein, temporarily forfeited to the federal government pending the conclusion of investigation.
The EFCC also said the application was predicated on the fact that the property is subject matter of investigation, enquiry and examination.
However, few days before the ex parte application was to be heard, Chief Mike Ozekhome counsel to Mrs. Jonathan, brought an application seeking to stop the hearing of the ex parte on grounds that the properties were subject matter of another suit filed by EFCC before same Federal High Court in Abuja.
Ozekhome, urged the court to condemn the action of the federal government whose agent demolished part of the property while the matter was pending in court.
He prayed the court not to grant the EFCC prayer for forfeiture of the said properties because they belong to a separate entity, the Aurora Foundation.
According to Ozekhome, the foundation has not breach any law, adding that, it was illogical for the EFCC to state that the Foundation has not done any contract, to have raised funds for the construction of the structure, adding that it does not have to be involved in contracting job to raise money.
He said though the EFCC motion was filed ex parte, the commission made Patience to be aware of it, giving rise to a situation where itâ€™s now improper and unfair â€˜to shave her hair in her absence.â€™
But EFCC lawyer, Benjamin Mangi, denied that the commission took part in the demolition of part of the building.
He said also that the suit was different from the one determined by Justice John Tsoho of the same court.
Besides, the lawyer further submitted that EFCC has the power to investigate without any prompting from anybody.
He emphasised that the commissionâ€™s application was filed ex parte, and prayed the court to refuse Mrs. Jonathanâ€™s application and to grant the prayer of the commission for forfeiture of the two properties pending their investigations.