Patience Jonathan defeats EFCC over seizure of $8.4m, N7.35bn
The Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday rejected an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission seeking the temporary forfeiture of funds in 15 bank accounts linked to Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
The funds, which the EFCC sought to seize, include a total of $8,435,788.84 and over N7.35bn kept in 15 bank accounts opened in the name of Patience, five companies and one Esther Oba.
Patience, Oba and the five firms were listed as respondents in the ex parte application, which the EFCC filed pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution.
The companies, which were listed as the 2nd to 6th defendants in the application, are Globus Integrated Service Limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, AM-PM Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited, Magel Resort Limited.
But Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, in a ruling on Friday, rejected the ex parte application filed by the EFCC for the forfeiture of the funds, saying the funds were already subject of litigation before two courts in Abuja.
Describing the EFCC’s application as an abuse of court process, the judge berated the anti-graft agency for forum shopping.
The EFCC had on January 15, 2018, approached the judge with an ex parte application, seeking the temporary forfeiture of the $8.4m and N7.35bn.
But the proceedings were interrupted by a train of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, led by Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who challenged the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the ex parte application.
The SANs told the judge that the funds, which the EFCC sought to seize, were already subject to litigation in other courts.
But counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, maintained that the SANs had no right of hearing in the proceedings since his application was ex parte.
He said he was surprised to see them in court, wondering how they got wind of the move by the anti-graft agency to seize the funds.
The SANs later excused themselves from the proceedings.
With the development, the judge had then adjourned the case and directed the EFCC to file an affidavit to convince her that there were no other pending lawsuits relating to the funds before other courts.
In her ruling on Friday, Justice Olatoregun said the records before the court showed that the subject matter was pending in suits before Justices Binta Nyanko and John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
She, therefore, struck out the ex parte application.