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Court Temporary Forfeites Patience Jonathan's of $5.8m USD Again

Reprieve is yet to come the way of the wife of the former president Dame Patience Ibifaka Jonathan, as a Federal High Court, Lagos, on Wednesday, temporarily freeze her $5, 845, 316. 66 million USD, domiciled with Skye Bank Plc, and another N2,421,953,522.78 billion, domiciled with Ecobank Nigeria plc.

The court presided over by ustice Mojisola Olatoregun made the order of temporary forfeiture, while granting an exparte application filed and argued by Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)

In the motion exparte application which Dame patience Jonathan and a company, LA Wari Furniture And Baths Limited were made the defendants, the anti-graft agency asked the court for an interim order of forfeiture of the sum of $5, 842, 316.66 million USD, found by the commission in account number 2110001712 domiciled with Skye Bank plc in the name of Dame Patience Jonathan, which sum is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.

The commission also asked for an order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N2,421,953,522,78 billion, found by the commission in account number 2022000760 domiciled with Ecobank Nigeria Limited in the name of LA Wari Furniture and Baths Limited which sum is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.

The commission also sought for an order of the court directing the publication in any national newspaper of the interim order for the respondents or anyone who is interested in the property sought to be forfeited to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture of the monetary properties should not be made in favour of the Federal Government.

The EFCC in the affidavit filed in support of the motion, EFCC stated that it received an intelligence report that the funds suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities were housed in both banks and that it analysed the intelligence reports and found it worthy of investigation.

EFCC also said its investigation revealed that Dame Jonathan on February 7, 2013 opened an account number 2110001712 with Skye Bank Plc, and upon opening the account, several huge cash deposit in USD were made into the account.

It was further averred in the affidavit that one Dudufa Warpamo Owei, who was the Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was one of the frequent depositors to the account.

The agency added that frequent cash depositor of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of
unlawful activities in the said account is one Festus Iyaha Isidahomen, a steward at the State House Abuja. And that the said Iyaha was also making deposits with fictitious names.

It was further averred that February  8,2013 and January 30, 2015, the sum of $6,791,599.64 million USD, suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities were deposited into the account in cash.

The commission further averred that the former first lady had dissipated the funds leaving a balance of $5,831,173.55 million USD, adding that Dame Patience Jonathan made a cash withdrawal of $100,000.00 USD on April 7,2017 from the account after obtaining court order in suit number  FHC/L/CS/1343/16 on the ground that the she was not a party to the suit.

The EFCC said it also traced funds suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities to account number 2022000760 domiciled with Ecobank Nigeria Limited, adding that the purported signatory to the account one Ada Ifegbu with telephone number 08068583017 belongs to one Esther Oba.

The commission in the affidavit also alleged that the. Sum of N2,953,522.78 billion kept in Ecobank account number 2022000760 in the name of LA Wari Furniture and Baths Limited were substantially the naira equivalent of USD given to Chima Nwafor John of Econank by one Esther Oba, at the Aso Rock Villa. That the said Chima Nwofor John who upon receipts of the dollars in cash contacted a Bureau de Change (BDC) operators to convert the Money to naira and deposited the naira equivalent to LA Forfeiture and Baths Limited's account.

It was further averred that the said  N2,033,196,721.31 billion, is currently on fixed account in the name of LA Wari Furniture Limited.
And that apart from the fixed account, the sum of N388,756.48 is currently standing to the credit of LA Wari Furniture and Baths Limited, adding that it would be in the interest of justice to make an order of interim forfeiture of the said sum to the Federal Government.

After listening to the argument of the commission's counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedepo the trial judge, Justice Olatoregun grated the Ex-parte application of interim forfeiture. But directed the anti-graft agency to publish the order in a national daily given anybody interested in the Money to come farewell and state why the money should not be permanently forfeited.

The judge however, adjourned the matter till May 15, 2017.


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