The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on Friday upheld an order of interim forfeiture to the federal government of $5.8 million ($5,842,316) and N2.4 billion (N2,421,953,522) traced to the accounts of the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience.
Mojeed Owoade, who gave the lead judgement, resolved the matter against Mrs. Jonathan saying her application lacked merit.
A judge of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court had on April 26 last year granted an order of interim forfeiture of the $5.8 million traced to Mrs. Jonathan’s account number 211001712 domiciled with Skye Bank Plc on the grounds that the money was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
The judge had also granted an order of interim forfeiture of N2.4 billion the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said was surreptitiously kept by the former first lady in an account number 202200760 domiciled with Eco Bank Plc in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Limited.
The EFCC had filed the application for the forfeiture of the monies to the Nigerian government.
During the hearing, Musbau Abubakar, an EFCC operative, deposed to an affidavit before the court stating that Mrs. Jonathan opened the Skye Bank account on February 7, 2013.
Mr. Abubakar also told Justice Olatoregun that the former First Lady made several United States Dollars cash deposits into the account through a former Special Assistant to former President Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, and a State House steward, Festus Iyoha.
Mr. Dudafa is facing trial over allegations of money laundering before a federal judge.
Mrs. Olatoregun had granted the prayers of the EFCC and directed Mrs. Jonathan to show cause why the money should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
But the former first lady’s lawyers, Mike Ozekhome and Ifedayo Adedipe, both senior advocates of Nigeria, approached the appellate court to set aside the order of the lower court.
Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyers also urged the Court of Appeal to declare as unconstitutional the provisions of Sections 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006.
One of the appellate court judges in July last year recused himself from hearing the appeal for “personal reasons.”