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Thursday, July 6, 2017

July 12 date for Patience Jonathan’s appeal to reclaim seized $5.7 million

The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division has fixed July 12 to hear an appeal by the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, seeking to stop the forfeiture of her $5.7million and N2,421,953,522.78 to the Federal Government.

The appeal arose from an order obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last April 26, from the Federal High Court in Lagos, temporarily forfeiting the cash to the government.

The commission told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, who made the order, that the funds were suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

It said the N5.7 million was part of the $6,791,599.64 (about N2.1billion) which Mrs. Jonathan allegedly directed her aides to pay into her account between February 8, 2013 and January 30, 2015, while her husband was President.

Mrs. Jonathan, the commission said, earlier spent $949, 282.98 (about N296, 141,911) from the money.

It said she withdrew another $100,000 from the account in April, leaving a balance of $5,731,173.55.

Justice Olatoregun also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the N2,421,953,522.78 found in an Ecobank Nigeria Ltd account 2022000760 in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd.

The commission said the money belonged to Mrs. Jonathan.

Last May 22, Justice Olatoregun suspended proceedings in the hearing of the EFCC’s application seeking permanent forfeiture of the cash pending the appellate court’s decision on the interim order.

She granted the applications of Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Counsel for La Wari Furniture and Baths, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), for a stay.

Adedipe said he filed an application for stay of proceedings pending the appeal’s determination.

Ozekhome added that once an appeal had been entered, the lower court ought to stay proceedings.

Besides, he said the court of Appeal already fixed yesterday to hear the case.

Mrs. Jonathan, in the notice of appeal, is praying the court to hold that the law cited by the EFCC in its ex-parte application for the temporary forfeiture was inapplicable.

“A judge is bound by the prayers on the motion paper, and the court has no jurisdiction to make a case for a party different from that presented by the said party,” the appellant said.

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