Why Patience Jonathan’s N350m was frozen – Court

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The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday granted an order temporarily freezing N350 million allegedly traced to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife Dame Patience.

The money is in an account domiciled in Stanbic IBTC, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said.

Justice Hadiza Rabiu-Shagari granted the comission’s ex-parte application filed by its lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo.

The EFCC said the money was allegedly transferred to a company’s account when Mrs Jonathan served as a permanent secretary in Bayelsa State between 2012 and 2013.

The commission alleged that the former First Lady “unlawfully enriched” herself with the money.

In a supporting affidavit to the application, an investigating officer at the EFCC, Musbahu Yahaya, said the commission received “a cogent, direct and positive intelligence report” that a company, AM-PM Global Network Limited, was in possession of proceeds of unlawful act and retained it in an account.

He said that between June 20, 2012 and November 15, 2013, the company fraudulently received N1,206,950,000 via its Diamond Bank account, numbered 0026718889.

The EFCC said the money was “proceeds of unlawful enrichment derived by Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan, who was then a permanent secretary appointed by the Bayelsa State government.”

According to the deponent, in a bid to dissipate the funds, the company opened an account numbered 0016971559 with Stanbic IBTC.

He said: “Out of the alleged proceed of unlawful enrichment of Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan, the respondent transferred the total sum of N350 million from its account in Diamond Bank to the account sought to be attached (Stanbic IBTC) in a desperate bid to dissipate the funds.

“We have traced the said N350 million to the respondent’s (AM-PM Global Network’s) account sought to be attached and the order of this court is needed to instruct the bank to attach the account to prevent the dissipation of the funds.

“The respondent is making frantic effort to dissipate these funds,” the deponent said.

The EFCC said that unless the application was urgently heard and determined, the company would tamper with the account.

“It will serve the course of justice to grant this application,” the commission said.

Deciding the application as prayed, Justice Hadiza granted “an order directing Manager of the Stanbic IBTC Bank to, in the interim, freeze the account pending the determination of the investigation and possible prosecution of this case.”

The EFCC, however, did not state in the affidavit who owns the company.

Two other judges of the court, Justice Mohammed Idris and Justice Mojisola Olatoregun-Ishola, had earlier frozen Mrs Jonathan’s accounts.

Justice Idris freezed her accounts with $15.5 million. Mrs Jonathan is praying the court to unfreeze the accounts.

The EFCC, however, urged the court not to unfreeze them because the money was suspected to be “proceed of crime”.

Justice Olatoregun freezed Mrs Jonathan’s account with $5.7million. The EFCC is seeking permanent forfeiture of the money.

The judge, on April 26, made an interim order forfeiting the money to the Federal Government.

Justice Olatoregun also ordered the temporary forfeiture 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.

Justice Olatoregun stayed proceedings pending the outcome of an appeal challenging the temporary forfeiture of the $5.7 million.

Also yesterday, Justice Idris refused an application by a former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Dr Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Dudafa, through his lawyer Mr. Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), urged the court to order the release of his international passport to enable him travel abroad to treat spinal cord injury which he claimed to have sustained while in EFCC custody.

But, Oyedepo urged the court not to grant the application on the grounds that the EFCC had written to a Lagos State government hospital to examine Dudafa’s health and to determine whether he could be treated in the country or abroad.

Justice Idris faulted Dudafa’s application, saying that a motion of such nature ought to be backed by hard evidence that the problem cannot be treated in Nigeria.

“I find it difficult to grant this application. I hereby dismissed it,” Justice Idris ruled.

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