Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday fixed April 13, for the hearing of final forfeiture of the sum of $5,781,173.55 and the N2.4 billion, said to have been illegally acquired by the former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
Justice Obiozor fixed the date, after counsel to the parties appeared before the court over the matter.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had sometimes in 2017, commenced the hearing of the suit against Mrs. Jonathan alongside LA Wari Furniture and Bathes before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, who retired from the bench in 2019.
The monies were said to be warehoused by Skye Bank Plc and Ecobank Plc.
Justice Olatoregun had on April 26, 2017, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the monies sequel to an ex-parte application by the EFCC, an order that was affirmed by both Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
However, midway to the conclusion of hearing on the final forfeiture of the said money, Justice Olatoregun retired from the bench, a development which compelled the Chief Registrar of the court to re-assign the matter to Justice Obiozor for hearing.
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Abass Muhammad, narrated to Justice Obiozor the journey of the matter.
In his words: “This matter is a suit instituted before your learned brother, Justice Olatoregun now retired, where we prayed for the final forfeiture of the sum of $5,781, 173.55, warehoused in Skye Bank Plc and N2,421,953,502.78, property of LA Wari Furniture and Bathes in Ecobank Plc.
“It was instituted and same interim order was granted on April 24, 2017, upon which it went up to Supreme Court and application for its final forfeiture was moved but the trial judge didn’t deliver judgment before retiring.
“It was upon that fact that the file was transferred to the registry where it was re-assigned to this court”.
Mr. Kolawole Salami, who stood-in for Patience Jonathan’s counsel, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), conceded to the submission of the EFCC’s counsel.
Also, Ige Asemudara, who held the brief of Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) while aligning himself with the submission of the applicant’s counsel, however added that that matter ought to commence afresh since it’s before a new court.
Asemudara however stated that he is bound by the court’s decision.
In his wisdom, Justice Obiozor, said he cannot upturn the exparte order made by Justice Olatoregun, but to proceed with the hearing of the application for final forfeiture.
With the consent of the parties and court’s convenience, the matter was adjourned till April 13, for the commencement of the hearing of all applications on the matter