Fear of forfeiture: Patience Jonathan submits video ‘evidence’ to prove source of $8.4m, N7.4b
Former First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan’s lawyers yesterday played five videos to prove the source of $8.4 million and N7.4 billion, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeks to forfeit to the Federal Government.
The videos were projected before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The judge had last April 20 ordered temporary forfeiture of the funds, which EFCC said were suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Mrs. Jonathan, Globus Integrated Services Ltd, Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd, Pagmat Oil and Gas Ltd and Magel Resort Ltd and Esther Oba are the respondents.
Among the temporarily forfeited sums are N1.085 billion and N226.3 million found in Finchley’s Ecobank account and N39.4 million found in its Diamond Bank account, as well as N55.9 million found in Pagmat Oil and Gas’ Diamond Bank account, among others.
EFCC’s counsel Rotimi Oyedepo had urged the court to order the money’s final forfeiture to the Federal Government.
But, Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyer Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) opposed the application.
He urged the court to refuse it on the basis that sufficient facts were not placed before the court to warrant a final forfeiture order.
The SAN argued that Mrs. Jonathan was neither invited by the commission to explain the sources of the funds nor was she charged with any offence.
Adedipe contended that the depositions by the applicant that the funds represented proceeds of unlawful activities were not substantiated.
The companies’ counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), argued that going by the provisions of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act, EFCC’s motion for final forfeiture was premature.
He argued that it was only when the companies’ affidavits to show cause are argued, and the court finds no merit in them, that the final forfeiture application could be justified.
According to him, his clients filed affidavits to show cause, adding that one of the companies exhibited its certificate of incorporation, its board resolution that Patience Jonathan be made a signatory to it, and bank documents showing its account are signed by other persons who are also signatories.
Besides, Ozekhome told the court that one of the companies makes money from selling items such as groceries, drinks, lighting, among others, adding that there was a video clip exhibit of various outfits legitimately run by the company.
The first video, which lasted 25 minutes, showed business outlets and products of Finchley Homes Ltd. They include interior and exterior home decorations, household utensils, textiles, drinks, noodles, furniture, a warehouse, as well as various pickup vans said to belong to the company.
The second video clip, which ran for four minutes, showed the business outfit of the Otuoke, Bayelsa State based Magel Resort Ltd, which comprised a luxurious hotel equipped IT centres.
Adedipe also exhibited three videos showing activities of the Women for Change Initiative, a non-governmental organisation linked to Mrs. Jonathan.
The first 10-minute video showed the flag off of the initiative’s campaign.
It was followed by another 10-minute clip showing aspects of the initiative’s empowerment of women through the distribution of food items.
The final video of seven minutes duration showed Mrs. Jonathan visiting Katsina State for the initiative’s flag-off.
The hearing continues today.