Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Lagos has granted a temporary forfeiture of N9.2 billion and $8.4 million linked to a former first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
The funds were said to be in the custody of Skye Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank and First Bank Plc.
The judge made the order on the application filed and argued by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo.
He also directed EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper within 14 days of the order and that the respondent be served.
Patience Jonathan, five firms and one Esther Oba were listed as respondents in the suit.
The firms that were listed as second to sixth defendants were; Globus Integrated Services Limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, AM-PM Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited and Magel Resort Limited.
An investigator with the EFCC, Huleji Tukura, who deposed to a 15-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte application, claimed that investigations by the anti-graft agency revealed that the funds found in the bank accounts linked to Patience emanated from the coffers of Bayelsa State.
The funds were said to have been moved at a time when the former first lady served as a permanent secretary in one of the ministries in Bayelsa State.
According to Tukura, Mrs. Jonathan first opened a First Bank account and then “procured” the then Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, to fund the account with “proceeds of unlawful activities.”
“The said Dudafa Waripamo-Owei procured one, Festus Isidohomen Iyoha and Arivi Eneji Peter, who were domestic staff attached to the State House, Abuja, to deposit the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, in the account of the 1st respondent (Patience).
“In depositing the funds into the account of the 1st respondent, the said domestic staff, in a bid to conceal their identity, deposited the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful act, into the 1st respondent’s account, using fictitious names.
“The total sum of $4,036,750 reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, were deposited into account No. 2022648664 domiciled in First Bank Plc in the name of the 1st respondent.
“On September 28, 2016, the 1st respondent, in dissipating the property sought to be forfeited, transferred the sum of $3,640,794.72 to the 1st respondent’s account No. 2031277178 domiciled in First Bank Plc.
“On October 5, 2016, the 1st respondent withdrew the sum of $1,000,000 cash from the said account leaving the balance of the sum of $3,645,013.73 which sum we are urging the court to forfeit in the interim to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the deponent averred.
Consequently the case was adjourned to May 11, 2018 for interested parties to show cause why the funds should not be finally forfeited to the federal government.