Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court Abuja on Tuesday set aside an exparte order of forfeiture of the sum of $5.8million, N3.5 billion and 16 separate bank accounts that belong to former First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan, her firms and foundation.
The judge also held in her ruling on an application brought by Mrs Jonathan that the interim 90 days order of forfeiture had lapsed, further held that the court was not convinced by the arguments of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to extend the forfeiture order.
She further held that the order which was granted on May 30, 2017 expired in August and the commission did not file any criminal charge against the owners of the bank account which it had alleged that the source of money found in them was under investigation.
Justice Nyako also ruled that “the application filed by the EFCC seeking to extend the expired forfeiture order was like putting a dead baby on oxygen”.
The judge agreed with the lawyer to Mrs Jonathan, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), that the processes filed by EFCC in Federal High Court in Lagos on same matter and subject amounted to forum shopping.
Mrs Jonathan had argued in her application that the orders of interim forfeiture including a subsequent one issued on October 10, 2017 have become spent and can not be extended as the original order was obtained by an improper use of court process by the EFCC.
The court also agreed with her deposition that the Incorporated Trustees of Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation, Pluto Property and Investment Limited, Seagate Property Development Investment Company, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Globus Integrated Services, Aruera Reachout Foundation, Pagmat Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited, Finhley Top Homes Limited , Women for Change Initiative Nigeria, Mabel Resort Limited and AM PM Global Network Limited, and Mrs Jonathan were the owners of the sums.
Mrs Jonathan has further alleged: ” That the Court had on May 30, 2017 granted an exparte order in favour of the of the federal government against all the accounts own and operated by them the applicants.
“That same federal government later went to Lagos and obtained another order made by
Justice C.M.A Olatoregun of the Federal High Court Lagos Division on October 10, 2017 directing the Managers of the Skye Bank, Eco Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, and Diamond Bank Plc, to in the interim, freeze and attach the various sums of money in the accounts belonging to Dame Patience Jonathan, Finchley Top Homes limited and Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation.
“That prior to the grant of the ex -parte motion by the court in Abuja, the federal government had filed a similar application before Justice Olatoregun of Lagos division but failed to disclose the fact that it had obtained same reliefs in Lagos.”
Mrs. Jonathan also contended that the owners of the money were never served with the interim order and that they became aware of it during a hearing of a petition Dame Patience Jonathan lodged at the National Assembly .
Andrew Orolua, Abuja.