New judge for Patience Jonathan’s $5.7m, N2.4b suit

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The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, will on Monday replace one of the judges on the three-man panel hearing an appeal by the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, concerning her seized funds.

Mrs Jonathan is seeking to stop the permanent forfeiture of $5.7million and N2,421,953,522.78 to the Federal Government.

The suit, which was assigned to Justices John Ikyeh, Abimbola Obaseki-Adejumo and Abraham Georgewill last July 5, was stalled last July 12 following the withdrawal of an unnamed member of the panel.

Justice Ikyeh, who presided over the appeal, noted that three judges were required to form a quorum before an appeal could be heard.

He adjourned hearing till Monday.

“One of us is going to recuse himself from this case for personal reasons, so we are not complete. Two of us cannot make a quorum,” Justice Ikyeh said.

In law, the verb recuse means to remove someone from a position of judicial authority, either a judge or a member of a jury, who is deemed unacceptable to judge, usually because of some bias.

Mrs Jonathan’s appeal arose from an order obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last April 26, from the Federal High Court in Lagos, temporarily forfeiting the cash to the government.

The commission told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, who made the order, that the funds were suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

It said the $5.7m was part of the $6,791,599.64 (about N2.1billion) which Mrs Jonathan allegedly directed her aides to pay into her account between February 8, 2013 and January 30, 2015, while her husband was President.

Mrs. Jonathan, the commission said, had earlier spent $949, 282.98 (about N296, 141,911) from the money.

It said she also withdrew another $100,000 from the account in April, leaving a balance of $5,731,173.55.

Justice Olatoregun also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the N2,421,953,522.78 found in an Ecobank Nigeria Ltd account numbered 2022000760 in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd.

The commission said the money also belongs to Mrs Jonathan.

Last May 22, Justice Olatoregun suspended proceedings in the hearing of the EFCC’s application seeking permanent forfeiture of the cash pending the appellate court’s decision on the interim order.

She granted the applications of Mrs Jonathan’s lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and that of Counsel for La Wari Furniture and Baths, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) for a stay.

Mrs Jonathan, in the notice of appeal, is praying the court to hold that the law cited by the EFCC in its ex-parte application for the temporary forfeiture was inapplicable.

“A judge is bound by the prayers on the motion paper, and the court has no jurisdiction to make a case for a party different from that presented by the said party,” the appellant said. The Nation

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