The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday refused to order the forfeiture of $8.4 million and N7.4 billion linked to former First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun refused an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) application for a final forfeiture of the sums seized from the former First Lady.
The judge had last April 20 ordered temporary forfeiture of the funds which EFCC said were suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Mrs Jonathan, Globus Integrated Services Ltd, Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd, Pagmat Oil and Gas Ltd and 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 argued that the money included donations and legitimate earnings by the companies linked to her.
Justice Olatoregun said parties must give oral evidence to justify the money’s source and ownership.
“I have stated here that the right of parties in this suit cannot be determined by affidavit evidence.
“Oral testimonies are to be called with cross extermination.
“I hereby order parties to call upon their witnesses so that the right of parties can be determined one way or the other,” the judge ruled.
EFCC said the money is “reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity”.
The commission also faulted Mrs Jonathan’s claim that some of the funds were donations.
“From the totality of what she filed, she did not disclose the identities of those who made the donations. Fictitious names were used to deposit the funds in the accounts, which show their fraudulent nature,” EFCC said.
By The Nation