Court Orders Final Forfeiture of Funds Linked to Patience Jonahan

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A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday ordered the final forfeiture of the $8.4 million and N7.4 billion found in accounts linked to a former First Lady, Patience Jonathan.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had sought a final forfeiture of the sums found in various accounts linked to the former first lady.

The anti-graft agency had secured an interim order for forefeture of the sums on April 20, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, following a motion exparte.

Joined in the suit as respondents are Patience Jonathan, Globus Integrated Services Ltd, Finchley Top Homes Ltd, Am-Pm Global Network Ltd, Pagmat Oil and Gas Ltd, Magel Resort Ltd and Esther Oba, younger sister to Mrs Jonathan.

The EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, had on October 29, 2018, moved his motion for final forfeiture of the sums to the federal government.

Meanwhile, defence counsel, Messrs Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), and Mr Ige Asemudara had respectively moved processes in opposition to the motion for final forfeiture.

The court on January 15 admitted electronic evidences presented by respondent counsel, which depicted videos showing various business outfits of Finchley Top Homes Ltd. and Magel Resort Ltd.

But in a judgment delivered on February 28, the court held that it found the affidavit evidences conflicting, adding that same could only be resolved by oral evidences of parties.

The court had consequently ordered parties to call their witnesses to give oral evidences.

In compliance, counsel to the parties called witnesses to testify in the suit.

The witness included: Mr Orji Chukwuma (EFCC operative), Esther Oba, Waripamo Dudafa and Achonye Obinna, who testified for Am-Pm Global Network, and Okwu Emmanuel, who testified for Pagmat Oil and Gas.

The court then reserved judgment for July 1.

Delivering judgment, Justice Olatoregun highlighted all arguments, counter arguments and submissions of counsel as well as the facts deposed to in the affidavits, counter affidavits and further affidavits.

The court held that it did not find the video evidences tendered by the respondent relevant to the facts as narrowed down by the applicant.

“I have no doubts that these monies are proceeds of unlawful activities,” the judge stated.

Olatoregun said there were no evidences to show why the sums were paid into the said accounts, adding that it was the duty of the respondent to relate the document to the sums of money.

“I am satisfied that the respective sums are liable to be forfeited to the federal government, the respondent having failed to show cause,” the judge said.

She ordered that the sums be paid into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as the federal government’s account.

The court further ordered the commission to file an affidavit of compliance within 14 days. (NAN)