The Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed November 13, 2018, for further hearing in a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to permanently seize the sums of $8,435,788.84 and over N7.35bn found in 15 bank accounts linked to a former First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan.
The anti-graft agency had on May 8 obtained an interim order to temporarily forfeit the funds to the Federal Government.
The EFCC claimed that its investigations revealed that the $8,435,788.84 and over N7.35bn emanated from the coffers of Bayelsa State.
It said the funds were moved at a time when Patience served as a Permanent Secretary in one of the ministries in Bayelsa State.
The anti-graft agency is pleading with Justice Mojisola Olatoregun to make an order to permanently forfeit the money to the Federal Government.
But Patience and the other defendants in the suit have vehemently opposed the prayer, insisting that funds were not proceeds of illegality as claimed by the EFCC.
Apart from Patience, the other defendants in the suit are Globus Integrated Services Limited, Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd., Pagmat Oil And Gas Ltd. and Magel Resort Limited and Esther Oba.
At the Monday’s proceedings, Patience’s lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), argued that it was not enough for the EFCC to conclude that the funds found in Patience’ bank account were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of fraud, when the anti-graft agency had not invited Patience to offer any explanation.
The SAN argued that the EFCC’s application seeking the final forfeiture of the money was premature and fell short of the requirements of Section 36 of the Constitution.
Adedipe added that there was no such crime as “statutory suspicion” in the Nigerian laws.
He described the EFCC’s application for the permanent forfeiture of the funds as vindictive and urged Justice Olatoregun not to allow the court to be used as “a vehicle for injustice”
Also, counsel for 3rd to 6th respondents, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), maintained that the money found in his clients’ bank accounts were proceeds of legitimate business, adding that the 3rd defendant made the money from the sale of grocery and drinks.
He urged the court to allow a video clip, which, he said, captured the various business outfits legitimately run by the 3rd defendant.
Justice Olatoregun adjourned further proceedings in the case till November 13.