In a landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, on Friday, January 12, 2018, 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, to the Federal Government.
Justice C.M.A. Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, had, on April 26, 2017, granted an order of interim forfeiture of the sum N5, 842, 316.66 traced to Jonathan’s account number 211001712 domiciled with Skye Bank Plc on the grounds that the money was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
The judge had also granted an order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N2, 421, 953, 522.78 surreptitiously kept by Jonathan in an account number 202200760 domiciled with Eco Bank Plc in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Limited.
The order 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 7, 2013.
Abubakar had also told Justice Olatoregun that the former First Lady made several United States Dollars cash deposits into the account through Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, a former aide to Goodluck Jonathan, and a State House steward, Festus Iyoha.
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 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 both Mike Ozekhome, SAN, and I.A. Adedeipe, approached the appellate court to set aside the order of the lower court.
Jonathan’s lawyers also urged the Court of Appeal to declare as unconstitutional the provisions of Sections 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006.
However, the appellate court of appeal presided over by Justice Mojeed A. Owoade upheld both the constitutionality of Section 17 and the order of the interim forfeiture of the various sums of money belonging to Jonathan.