Judge’s absence stalls N7.4bn forfeiture suit against Patience Jonathan

Former First Lady, Patience Jonathan

The absence of Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, of the Federal High Court, Lagos on Monday stalled the hearing of a motion in a suit seeking forfeiture of funds linked to a former first lady, Patience Jonathan.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had begun fresh moves to seize the funds, including $6.4 million and N7.4 billion, in 15 bank accounts linked to the former first lady.

Justice Olatoregun was said to be attending a workshop. Consequently, the case was adjourned until February 14 for hearing.

In two previous adjournments, EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had appeared before Olatoregun seeking to move an ex parte application for a temporary forfeiture of the said funds.

The move was, however, interrupted by Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who challenged the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the ex parte application.

He had told the court that the funds on which the EFCC seeks a forfeiture order were already subject of a pending litigation.

But Oyedepo maintained that Adedipe had no right of audience in the court, since his application was ex parte (without notice to other parties).

He argued that he wondered how the senior lawyer got wind of the application by the anti-graft agency in the first place, and urged the court to disregard his appearance.

The court upheld Oyedepo’s submission.

The judge then adjourned the suit and directed the EFCC to file an affidavit to convince the court that there were no pending suits in relation to the same subject matter before the court.

In the said ex parte application, the EFCC listed Mrs. Jonathan and one Esther Oba as respondents.

Also listed as defendants were: Globus Integrated Services Ltd., Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd., Pagmat Oil And Gas Ltd. and Magel Resort Ltd.

The ex parte application is supported by a 15-paragraph affidavit deposed to by an investigator with the EFCC, Huleji Tukura.