A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed April 13 to hear an application seeking forfeiture of the $5,781,173.55 and the N2.4billion said to have been illegally acquired by former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
Justice Chuka Obiozor fixed the date after hearing counsel to the parties in the suit.
The application was filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) sometime in 2017 and hearing commenced before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.
The judge, on April 26, 2017, granted an order temporarily forfeiting the monies found in accounts in Skye Bank and Ecobank, run by La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd.
According to the EFCC, which filed the ex-parte application, the money belonged to Mrs. Jonathan.
The interim order was affirmed by both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
Following Olatoregun’s retirement from the Bench in 2019 before delivering judgment, the suit was re-assigned to Justice Obiozor with Mrs. Jonathan and La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd as defendants.
When the matter came up before the new judge, EFCC counsel, Abass Muhammad, narrated the case history.
Muhammad said: “This matter is a suit instituted before your learned brother Justice Olatoregun now retired, where we prayed for the final forfeiture of the sum of $5. 781, 173. 55 million USD warehoused in Skye Bank Plc and N2. 421, 953, 502. 78 billion, property of LA Wari Furniture and Bathes in Ecobank Plc.
“It was instituted and same interim order was granted on April 24, 2017, upon which it went up to Supreme Court and application for its final forfeiture was moved but the trial judge didn’t deliver judgment before retiring.
“It was upon that fact that the file was transferred to the registry where it was reassigned to this Court”.
Kolawole Salami, who stood-in for Patience Jonathan’s counsel, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), aligned himself with Muhammad’s submission.
So did Ige Asemudara, who held the brief of Mike Ozekhome (SAN). Asemudara added that the matter ought to commence ‘de novo’, since it is before a new court.
Ruling, Justice Obiozor said he could not upturn the interim ex parte order, without hearing the application for final forfeiture first.
With the consent of parties, he adjourned till April 13, for the commencement of hearing of all applications on the matter.