A new judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos, has taken over a suit filed by former first lady Dame Patience Jonathan challenging a “no-debit-order” placed on her account by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It followed the elevation of Justice Mohammed Idris to the Court of Appeal.
Justice Aneke on Wednesday adjourned until May 22.
The EFCC, Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank) and three companies – Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd and Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd are the respondents.
Mrs Jonathan, in the suit filed in 2016, is demanding N200 million damages.
She is urging the court to compel the EFCC to immediately remove the “no debit order” placed on her accounts with $9.8 million.
The plaintiff’s counsel Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) said there was an amendment to the suit to reflect the change in the bank’s name.
An aide, Sammie Somiari, deposed to a supporting affidavit on behalf of the former first lady.
The deponent said a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, helped Mrs Jonathan to open the banks accounts.
Somiari said Mrs Jonathan is the sole signatory to the accounts, adding that after five accounts were opened for, she discovered that Dudafa opened only one in her name while the others were in the companies’.
The deponent said Mrs Jonathan continued to operate the accounts with debit cards until EFCC placed the “no-deposit order”.
But, in its defence, EFCC said Mrs Jonathan does not run any business from which she could have earned such huge sums, being the wife of the former president, a civil servant and a retired Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State.
“Investigation conducted by the first defendant (EFCC) revealed that the plaintiff is not the owner of the funds in the accounts of the third to fifth defendants (companies), which funds were discovered to be proceeds of fraudulent activities of Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa,” EFCC said.
The commission said between 2013 and 2015, “huge sums of money were stolen from the Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies.”
The agencies, it said, included the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).