A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday ordered the forfeiture of former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan’s $8.4 million and N9.2 billion to the Federal Government.
The Nation reports that Justice Mojisola Olatoregun held that the money is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
She granted an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that the money should be permanently forfeited.
The judge said Mrs Jonathan could not prove that the money was earned legitimately.
Joined as co-respondents in the case alongside Patience Jonathan are Globus Integrated Services Ltd; Finchley Top Homes Ltd.; Am-Pm Global Network Ltd; Pagmat Oil and Gas Ltd; Magel Resort Ltd; and one Esther Oba.
Justice Olatoregun in her judgement stated that she found no reason in the affidavit filed before the court to show cause why the money found in the various bank accounts should not be qualified as proceeds of an unlawful activities and same not to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The sum of $4million each was found in First BanK Plc and Skye Bank Plc(now Polaris Bank) accounts. Another $429,000 was also found in a separate Skye Bank(Polaris Bank) account.
The naira components of the seized loot were found in Fidelity Bank, EcoBank, Diamond Bank Plc, Standbic IBTC Plc and Zenith Bank accounts.
EFCC on October 29, 2018 had sought an order of the court for the final forfeiture of the entire money, six months after it secured an interim forfeiture order from the same court.
Dame Patience Jonathan had claimed that the source of the funds found in her account were gifts and donations during social events such as Christmas celebrations, Salah, burial of her mother and during the launch of her NGO- Women for Change Development.
She also claimed that she enjoyed tremendous goodwill gifts from dignitaries as wife of Goodluck Jonathan, right from 1999 when he was a deputy governor in Bayelsa State up till the time he became the president of Nigeria.
Another claim she made was that she inherited some of the money from her late mother.
To further debunk the notion that the funds were not proceeds from unlawful enrichment, Esther Oba, sister to Patience and special assistant on household duties in Aso Rock said some of the funds found in her domiciliary accounts were gotten from her estacode during official trips. She also claimed that some of the money were donations from people after she lost her mother and also when she had her first child after 14 years of marriage.
Justice Olatoregun, however, said the applicants failed to say precisely where the money came from.
The judge stated that the 2nd respondent also failed to dispel the suspicion that the funds found in Globus Network Ltd were proceeds from unlawful activities.
The judge further said the three witnesses provided by the respondents failed to show proof of source of the money the EFCC urged the court to forfeit as they said they were only in charge of sales.
She said the three witnesses failed to proof that the huge sums were not proceeds from illegal activities.
The court found no evidence to support the volume of income found in the various accounts the EFCC is seeking the court to forfeit.
Also, the fact that the Bureau de change stated that there was no business transaction with the respondents and that they only changed money from naira to dollars is no doubt a reason to support the suspicion that the money emanated from unlawful activities.
Justice Olatoregun held that the overwhelming evidence produced by the EFCC showed that fictitious names were used to lodge money into the accounts and the non-payment of tax also buttressed the fact that the money was a proceed from illegal enrichment.
The judge concluded by saying the respective sums are liable to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.