The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed an appeal filed by wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience over the temporary forfeiture of her $5.7million.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos had ordered the money’s temporary forfeiture on April 26, last year, based on an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The lower court also ordered the temporary forfeiture N2,421,953,522.78 found in an Ecobank Nigeria Ltd account numbered 2022000760 in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd.
But Mrs Jonathan had appealed against the ruling which temporarily ordered the money’s forfeiture to the Federal Government.
The anti graft agency said the money belongs to Mrs Jonathan.
According to EFCC, the money was received in dollars by an Ecobank Plc staff from Aso Rock (Presidential Villa) through one Esther Oba who alleged fronted for Mrs Jonathan.
The Court of Appeal also dismissed an appeal by La Wari Funiture.
Mrs Jonathan had urged the appellate court to dismiss the temporary forfeiture order on the basis that sufficient materials were not presented at the lower court, among others.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Mojeed Owoade, the Court of Appeal held that the appeals lacked merit.
It upheld the arguments of EFCC counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, and resolved the issues against the appellant.
The court upheld the constitutionality of Section 17 of the Advance Fee fraud Act, which empowers the EFCC to apply for the forfeiture to the Federal Government of property reasonably suspected to be proceed of unlawful activity.
Justice Owoade held that he section was not in conflict with Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution which guarantees fair hearing.
Besides, the Justice added that Section 135 of the Evidence Act shifted the responsibility of proving how Mrs Jonathan got the money to her.
Her words: “The section merely shifts the evidential burden of proof on to the appellant to disprove the facts raised by the respondent in its motion on notice for final forfeiture of the funds.
“To that extent, the provisions of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud are neither in conflict with Section 135 (1) of the Evidence Act 2011 nor with Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
“There is nothing unusual or unconstitutional in the Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act.
“The respondent placed sufficient materials before the court below to justify the grant of the ex-parte application.
“Having resolved the two issues in this appeal against the against the appellant, the appeal lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed. I make no order as to cost,” Justice Owoade held.