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Again, Court Temporary Forfeits $8.4m, N9.2bn Linked To Patience Jonathan

A Federal High Court, Lagos, has ordered that the sum of $8. 435,789.84 million USD, and N9.185, 327, 362 billion, linked to the former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan and six others, be temporary forfeited to the Federal government of Nigeria.

The monies were said to be in custody of Skye Bank Plc,  Diamond Bank Plc, and Stabic-IBTC and First Bank Plc.

Joined as respondents alongside Mrs. Jonathan in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/620/2018, are: Globus Integrated Service Limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, AM-PM Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited, and Magel Resort Limited, and one Esther Oba.

The court presided over by Justice Majisola Olatoregun, had on April 14, struck out the same application, for being abuse of court processes.

However, the court ordered that the monies be temporary forfeited to the federal government, after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on April 19, refiled the application on the ground that it has consolidated all other suits of the same subject matter and parties.

Consequently, Justice Olatoregun, on April 20, granted the order for temporary forfeiture of the monies, after being satisfied with the EFCC's application before the court.

After granting the EFCC's application, Justice Olatoregun ordered the EFCC to publish the forfeiture order in Punch or any national newspaper, within 14 days, so that any persons who have interest in the monies should show cause while the monies will not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.

The matter has been adjourned till Friday, for further hearing.

In urging the court for the temporary forfeiture of the monies, the EFCC in an affidavit deposed to by one of its investigator, Huleji Tukura, who deposed to a 15-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte application claimed that investigations by the anti-graft agency revealed that the funds found in the bank accounts linked to Patience emanated from the coffers of Bayelsa State. The funds were said to have been moved at a time when the former first lady served as a permanent secretary in one of the ministries in Bayelsa State.

According to Tukura, Mrs.  Jonathan 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.”

“The said Dudafa Waripamo-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 the 1st respondent (Patience).

“In depositing the funds into the account of the 1st respondent, the said domestic staff, in a bid to conceal their identity, deposited the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful act, into the 1st respondent’s account, using fictitious names.

“The total sum of $4, 036, 750. reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, were deposited into account No. 2022648664 domiciled in First Bank Plc in the name of the 1st respondent.

“On September 28, 2016, the first respondent, in dissipating the property sought to be forfeited, transferred the sum of $3, 640, 794. 72 to the first respondent’s account No. 2031277178 domiciled in First Bank Plc.

“On October 5, 2016, the first respondent withdrew the sum of $1 million 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.

”As at the time the various sums were deposited in into. exhibit  EFCC01, the first respondent was a serving permanent secretary in the employment of the Bayelsa State Government.

“The funds sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria are not the first respondent’s lawful earnings but are rather reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities”, the deponent averred.

The deponent 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 (CAC) 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 companies’ accounts for Mrs. Jonathan.

“The depositors into this account are domestic staff of State House, Abuja, who was 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.

Making specific reference to Globus Integrated Services Ltd., Tukura said: “None of the Directors of the 2nd respondent are signatories to the said account”.

The second respondent was also said to have opened account number; 2110002269 with Skye Bank Plc. mainly to retain proceeds of unlawful activities.

The deponent further averred that accounts were opened in the name of the fourth to sixth respondents in Diamond Bank Plc. solely to retain funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

“Account No. 0016971559 was opened in the name of the 4th respondent (Am-Pm Global Network Limited) with Stanbic IBTC Bank and was used to warehouse N317, 397, 458 .26 reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities”, the deponent said.

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