Justice Mojisola Olaterogun of the Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday ordered the permanent forfeiture to the Federal Government, the sum of $8.4million and another N9.2billion linked to the wife of the former president, Dame Patience Jonathan.
The judge held that she failed to show reasonable cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited.
The court found that the funds, as claimed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
On April 20, 2018, the EFCC had secured an interim order for forfeiture of the sums following a motion ex-parte it filed before the court.
Other respondents are Globus Integrated Services Ltd, Finchley Top Homes Limited, Am-Pm Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited and Magel Resort Limited and Esther Oba. On October 29, 2018, EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, moved his motion for final forfeiture of the sums, urging that same be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
While defence counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Ige Asemudara, had respectively moved their processes in opposition to the motion for final forfeiture.
On January 15, the court admitted electronic evidence presented by the defence team, which depicted video exhibits showing various business outfits of Finchley Top Homes Ltd. and Magel Resort Limited.
Delivering judgment yesterday, Justice Olatoregun said the respondents “failed to dispel the suspicion created by the movement of the monies within the meaning and contemplation of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences Act, coupled with the various extrajudicial statements of the Bureau De Change (BDC) agents which were not controverted by the respondents.
“In all of this, taking into consideration the overwhelming evidence provided by the applicant, the mode, the circumstances and the manner involved, using fictitious names, etc to lodge monies in her name by named and unnamed individuals and BDCs, I cannot come to a conclusion by any sense of responsibility that these monies are proceeds of lawful activities within the meaning and contemplation of the provisions of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences Act 2006; the Money Laundering Act 2004 and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 2004 and other laws enforceable under the EFCC Act 2004.”
The judge said the respondents “failed to show cause why the monies should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
In praying the court for the final forfeiture of the fund, EFCC said the respondents were not into “any legitimate income-yielding business venture” as to earn such amounts.
It alleged that the firms were incorporated for the purpose of warehousing proceeds of unlawful activities for Patience.
“The depositors into these accounts are domestic staff of State House, Abuja, who were procured by the Dudafa Waripamo-Owei (Jonathan’s Special Assistant on Domestic and Household Matters) to deposit the funds sought to be forfeited in a bid to conceal the true origin of the funds,” the EFCC said in the application filed by Oyedepo.
But opposing the application, Adedipe had contended that it was wrong for the EFCC to tag the money as proceeds of crime when Patience had not been charged with any crime and when nobody complained that their money was missing.