The Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday, fixed October 7 for hearing in the forfeiture proceedings concerning $5.78million and N2.4billion seized from some firms linked to a former First Lady, Patience Jonathan .
The judge, T. G Ringim, adjourned the case to hear an application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the final forfeiture of the funds, the agency’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement on Monday.
A non-conviction-based forfeiture proceedings are targeted at funds or assets strongly suspected to be proceeds of crime with the person or entity from whom they are seized having no legitimate explanation for their acquisition.
Mr Wilson said the funds warehoused in Skye Bank Plc and Ecobank Plc had earlier been placed under an interim forfeiture order issued by a now retired judge of the court, Mojisola Olatoregun.
“Following an ex-parte application by the EFCC, Justice Olatoregun had, on April 26, 2017, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the money.
“Dissatisfied with the order of the trial court, Mrs Jonathan alongside other respondents, LA Wari Furniture and Bathes, had first approached the Court of Appeal and subsequently the Supreme Court to set aside the order of the lower court.
“However, both the appellate court and the apex court affirmed the order of Justice Olatoregun,” the statement read in part.
It added that before the conclusion of hearing on the EFCC’s motion for the final forfeiture regarding the funds, Ms Olatoregun retired from the bench in 2019.
As a result of her retirement, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court re-assigned the matter to a new judge, Chuka Obiozor, for hearing.
Mr Obiozor, however, could not hear the case before his transfer to the Benin Division of the Federal High Court.
The case is now before Mr Ringim. EFCC’s lawyer speaks At the resumed hearing before Mr Ringim on Monday, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, gave a brief background of the case. “This matter is a non-conviction suit instituted before your learned ‘brother’, Justice Olatoregun now retired, where we prayed for the final forfeiture of the sum of $5,781,173.55, warehoused in Skye Bank Plc and N2,421,953,502.78, property of LA Wari Furniture and Bathes in Ecobank Plc.“It was instituted and an interim order was granted on April 24, 2017, upon which it went up to Supreme Court and an application for its final forfeiture was moved. But the trial judge didn’t deliver the judgment before retiring.“It was upon that fact […]