Hearing was stalled Wednesday in a forfeiture case by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against former First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun had adjourned for parties to give oral evidence on the source of $8.4 million and N7.4 billion allegedly belonging to Mrs. Jonathan, which EFCC is praying the court to order its final forfeiture.
But, EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo was said to have written the court for an adjournment as he was to appear before the National Judicial Council (NJC) in another matter.
The Council’s committees investigating petitions against suspended Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen and Acting Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad were said to have begun sitting on Monday.
Justice Olatoregun had on February 28 declined to grant EFCC’s application for the sums’ final forfeiture but directed parties to give oral evidence to justify ownership.
She said there were conflicting depositions in the affidavits before her, adding that oral evidence was needed to clear them up.
Mrs. Jonathan, Globus Integrated Services Ltd, Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd, Pagmat Oil and Gas Ltd, Magel Resort Ltd and Esther Oba are the respondents.
Among the temporarily forfeited sums are N1.085billion and N226.3million found in Finchley’s Ecobank account and N39.4million found in its Diamond Bank account, as well as N55.9million found in Pagmat Oil and Gas’ Diamond Bank account, among others.
Mrs Jonathan’s lawyers, including Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had argued that the funds included donations and legitimate earnings by the companies linked to her.
But, EFCC said the money was “reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity”.
The anti-graft agency said the companies were not into “any legitimate income-yielding business venture” and did not pay tax, but were incorporated for the purpose of warehousing proceeds of unlawful activities for the former First Lady.
Justice Olatoregun fixed April 12 for hearing.