Esther Oba, an associate of the former First lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, Friday asked a Federal High Court, Lagos, to set aside an earlier order of interim forfeiture of the sum of $8.435,789.84 million and N9.185,327,362 billion linked to the former first lady to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Justice Cecilia Mojisola Olatoregun, had on April 19 gave an order of interim forfeiture of the monies while granting an exparte application filed before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), against Mrs. Jonathan, Esther Oba and some companies.
The companies named in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/620/18, are: Globus Integrated Service Limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, AM-PM Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited, and Magel Resort Limited.
When the matter came up yesterday, Esther Oba, who was said to be instrumental to lodging the monies into designated banks linked to Patience Jonathan, in a motion on notice filed by her lawyer, Ige Asemudara prayed for an order of the court setting aside the interim order forfeiture of the money.
She also requested for an order striking out the entire provisions of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other related Offences Act 2006, for being inconsistent with Section 1, 36 (5), and 44 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
She said the order was obtained by the EFCC concealing material facts or misrepresenting facts, and that the order made by the court without requisite jurisdiction and in breach of fair hearing provision of the constitution, the Evidence Act, and other statues.
According to her, there was no reasonable cause of action against her, and that the exparte motion was brought in bad faith, adding that the suit constitutes an abuse of court process.
But counsel to the defendants: Ifedayo Adedipe and Mike Ozekhome told the court that they are still filing their processes against the interim order of forfeiture.
EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that he was just served with Oba’s motion, and that he will need time to respond.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, advised all parties to file all applications and front-loads all documents they needed and serve same on the parties before the next adjournment on June 18, for hearing of preliminary objections and motion to discharge the interim order of forfeiture.
Urging the court for the temporary forfeiture of the monies, the EFCC in an affidavit deposed to by one of its investigator, 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.
Tukura claimed that 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 deponent further averred that the companies mentioned in the application were not into “any legitimate income-yielding business venture” but were rather incorporated at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) for the purpose of warehousing proceeds of unlawful activities for the former first lady.
He claimed that every now and then domestic servants at the Presidential Villa were sent to deposit money into the companies’ accounts for Mrs. Jonathan.
“The depositors into this account are domestic staff of State House, Abuja, who was procured by the said Dudafa Waripamo-Owei to deposit the funds sought to be forfeited in a bid to conceal the true origin of the funds,” Tukura said.