FORMER First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has been in the news since her husband and former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, left office in 2015 over alleged billions of Naira traced to her by the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Some weeks ago, the Supreme Court affirmed an order of the Lagos Division
FORMER First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has been in the news since her husband and former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, left office in 2015 over alleged billions of Naira traced to her by the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Some weeks ago, the Supreme Court affirmed an order of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court for the interim forfeiture of N2.4bn allegedly traced to her.
Before that, the apex court sanctioned a similar order of interim forfeiture of $8.4m belonging to the ex-First Lady.
The court had ordered, before the forfeiture judgment, her return to the Federal High Court in Lagos to show reason why she would not give up the fund permanently to the Federal Government.
EFCC allegedly traced $8,435,788.84 and over N7.35bn reportedly found in 15 bank accounts to Mrs. Jonathan.
The anti-graft agency claimed its investigations revealed that the $8,435,788.84 and over N7.35bn emanated from the coffers of Bayelsa State. It obtained an interim order to deprive her of the funds on May 8, 2018
Recently, in a separate appeal, a five-man panel of the apex court unanimously handed down a related verdict affirming an interim forfeiture of N2,421,953,522 in the bank account of Lawari Furniture and Bath Limited, a firm which EFCC had linked to Mrs. Jonathan.
The anti-graft agency claimed the various funds were proceeds of unlawful activities. Lawari Furniture and Bath Limited, through its lawyers, Chief Mike Ozekhome , SAN, had filed an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging a January 12, 2018 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Lagos, which validated the interim forfeiture order made on April 26, 2017 by the Federal High Court in Lagos in respect of the N2.4bn.
EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, had opposed the appeal at the hearing before the Supreme Court.
Justice Amiru Sanusi, a member of the Justice Tanko Muhammad-led panel, held, in the lead judgment, that there was no justification to “interfere with the concurrent findings of the two lower courts.”
The lead judgment, read by Justice Sidi Bage on behalf of Justice Sanusi, who was absent, stated that the apex court would only interfere with concurrent decisions of the lower courts only when “there is a special circumstance where the decision is perverse or there is misapplication of law or the facts”.
He added, “I have seen none of these in this appeal. I find no merit in this appeal and it is accordingly dismissed.”
The court also rejected Mrs. Jonathan’s prayer to strike down the provisions of Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act and other Fraud Related Offences Act, which the Federal High Court relied on to issue the order of interim forfeiture.
In his concurring opinion, Justice Ejembi Eko, a member of the apex court’s panel, noted that splitting of the appeal from the one ruled upon the week earlier was unnecessary.