A Federal High Court will on Jan. 15 continue to hear a suit seeking final forfeiture of about $8.4 million and N7.4 billion found in bank accounts linked to a former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on April 20, secured an interim order for the forfeiture, from Justice Mojisola Olatoregun in Lagos through an ex-parte (without notice) application.
In the suit, EFCC joined Patience Jonathan, Globus Integrated Services Ltd. and Finchley Top Homes Ltd. as respondents.
Also joined as respondents are: Am-Pm Global Network Ltd., Pagmat Oil and Gas Ltd., Magel Resort Ltd. and Esther Oba.
Video evidence by the defence could not take place on Thursday as earlier scheduled because the court did not sit.
EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, had informed the court at the last adjourned date that he had an application for final forfeiture dated of May 8.
According to him, the application seeks an order of the court for a final forfeiture of sums of money listed in the application.
He supported the application with an affidavit deposed to on May 20 by Mr Orji Chukwuma, an EFCC operative.
Oyedepo urged the court to grant the application for final forfeiture.
However, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), counsel to the first respondent (Patience Jonathan), urged the court to refuse the application on the ground that sufficient facts had not been placed before the court to warrant a final order.
According to Adedipe, the applicant’s case is that it found money in the accounts of the first respondent, which it suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
He argued that the first respondent was neither invited by the EFCC nor prosecuted.
Adedipe argued further that the applicant (EFCC) failed to take the preliminary steps but headed to seek an order of forfeiture.
The counsel said that the practice fell short of prosecutorial procedures.
He argued that the depositions by the applicant that the funds represented proceeds of unlawful activities had not been substantiated, noting that Section 36 of the Constitution provided that a person should not be convicted of an offence, unless defined and punishment prescribed.
According to him, there is no crime known as “statutory suspicion”.
He submitted that the onus rested on the EFCC to prove that the respondent had such amounts of money, and that they were obtained under false pretences or fraud.
He said that although there were depositions that the funds were obtained from “Women for Change” and Bola Shagaya, there were, however, no evidence before the court to show that the funds were stolen.
He submitted that the application was vindictive, urging the court to dismiss it.