Appeal court upholds interim forfeiture of former first lady, Patience Jonathan’s $5.8m, N2.5bn

Justice Mojeed Owoade of the Court of Appeal in Lagos has upheld the order of interim forfeiture of the sum of $5, 842, 316.66 and N2, 421, 953, 522.78 traced to the accounts of the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, on April 26th 2017, granted an order of interim forfeiture of the sum N5, 842, 316.66 traced to the former first lady’s account domiciled with Skye Bank Plc, on the grounds that the money was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities. Justice Olatoregun had also granted an order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N2, 421, 953, 522.78 secretly kept by Mrs Jonathan in another account domiciled with Eco Bank Plc in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Limited.

The order for the forfeiture to the Federal Government came following an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

An operative of the Commission, Musbahu Abubakar, who deposed to the affidavit, had told the court that the former First Lady opened the Skye Bank account on February 7th 2013.

Abubakar had also told Justice Olatoregun that the former First Lady made several United States Dollars cash deposits into the account through a former Special Assistant to former President Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, and a State House steward, Festus Iyoha.

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Moving the application for the temporary forfeiture of the money, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, had prayed the court to urgently freeze the account so as to prevent her from moving the funds.

In her ruling, Justice Olatoregun had granted the prayers of the EFCC counsel and directed Mrs Jonathan to show cause why the money should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.

However, in a bid to set aside the ruling of Justice Olatoregun, the former First Lady, through her team of lawyers led by Mike Ozekhome, SAN, and Ifedayo Adedipe, approached the appellate court to set aside the order of the lower court.

However, the appellate court of appeal presided over by Justice Mojeed Owoade upheld the constitutionality of Section 17 and upheld the order of the interim forfeiture of the various sums of money belonging to Jonathan.

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