Monday, January 15, 2018 10:07 pm
Nigeria’s foremost anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC has filed fresh application before a Federal high court in Lagos South West Nigeria seeking the order of the court to seize funds in 15 bank accounts linked to the former Nigeria first Lady Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
The funds, which the EFCC is seeking to seize, are in the sum of $8,435,788.84 and over N7.35bn.
But the move was interrupted by two Senior Advocates of Nigeria led by Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), leading nine other lawyers who challenged the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the ex parte application.
The two senior Advocates in a joint submission told the presiding Judge, Mojisola Olatoregun that the funds, which the EFCC seeks to seize, were already subject of litigation.
However EFCC legal officer, Barrister Rotimi Oyedepo, objected on the ground that the two Senior Advocates have no right of hearing in the case since his application was by ex parte, and they were not put on notice, he wondered how they got wind of the application filed by the anti-graft agency in the first place.
He urged the judge to disregard their appearance.
Justice Olatoregun upheld Oyedepo’s submission, thereafter the SANs left the courtroom.
Consequently, in view of the development, Justice Olatoregun adjourned the case till January 23, 2018 and directed the EFCC to file an affidavit to convince the court that there were no pending lawsuits relating to the funds sought to be forfeited.
In the said ex parte application, the EFCC listed Patience Jonathan, five firms and one Esther Oba as respondents.
The firms that were listed as second to sixth defendants are Globus Integrated Services Ltd., Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd., Pagmat Oil And Gas Ltd. and Magel Resort Ltd.
In an affidavit sworn to by a one Huleji Tukura, EFCC averred that its investigation revealed that the funds found in the bank accounts linked to Patience emanated from the coffers of Bayelsa State and that the funds were moved to the accounts at a time the former First Lady served as a permanent secretary in one the ministries in Bayelsa State.
According to Tukura, Patience first opened a First Bank account and then “procured” the then Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, to fund the account with “proceeds of unlawful activities.”
Tukura averred, “That the said Dudafa Warripamo-Owei procured one Festus Isidohomen Iyoha and Arivi Eneji Peter, who were domestic staff attached to the State House, Abuja, to deposit the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, in to account of Patience Jonathan.
“That in depositing the funds into the account of the former first Lady, the said domestic staff, in a bid to conceal their identity, deposited the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful act, into the account, using fictitious names.
“That the total sum of $4,036,750.00 (Four million, thirty-six thousand, seven hundred and fifty United States’ dollar) reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, were deposited into account No. 2022648664 domiciled in First Bank Plc in the name of Patience Jonathan.
“That on the 28th day of September, 2016, the Patience in dissipating the property sought to be forfeited, transferred the sum of $3,640,794.72 to her account No. 2031277178 domiciled in First Bank Plc.
“That on the 5th day of October, 2016, she withdrew the sum of $1,000,000.00 cash from the said account leaving the balance of the sum of $3,645,013.73 which sum we are urging this honourable court to forfeit in the interim to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
”That as at the time the various sums were deposited in into the account she was a serving permanent secretary in the employment of the Bayelsa State Government.
“That the funds sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria are not her lawful earnings but are rather reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.”
The investigator further averred that the companies mentioned in the application were not into “any legitimate income-yielding business venture” but were rather incorporated at the Corporate Affairs Commission for the purpose of warehousing proceeds of unlawful activities for the former First Lady.
He claimed that every now and then domestic servants at the Presidential Villa were sent to deposit money into the company’s accounts for Patience.
“The depositors into this account are domestic staff of State House, Abuja, who were procured by the said Dudafa Waripamo-Owei to deposit the funds sought to be forfeited in a bid to conceal the true origin of the funds,” Tukura said.
“That Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan fraudulently assumed the identity of one Esther Oba as the signatory to the said account.
“That the total sum of N1,800,494,000.00 (One billion, eight Hundred million, four hundred and ninety-four thousand) reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities are deposited into account No.4011019539 opened in the name of the company rfor the purpose of retaining proceeds of unlawful activities.
“That the signature displayed in the means of identification presented by the purported Esther Oba on passport No. A05977202 is at variance with the signature on mandate.
“That the said Esther Oba is currently at large and had refuse to honour repeated invitations extended to her.”
Consequently, EFCC is urging Justice Olatoregun to order the temporary forfeiture of all the funds – $8,435,788.84 and over N7.35bn – to prevent Patience from dissipating them.
“There is an urgent need for this Honourable Court to direct the managers of the bank accounts contained in schedule to this summons to, in the interim, forfeit the money contain therein to prevent further tampering with the accounts being sought to be attached.
“That it will serve the course of justice to grant this application,” Tukura said.
Akin Kuponiyi email@example.com