By Sandra Umeh
Lagos – A Federal High Court Lagos, Wednesday, fixed April 12, to hear oral evidence in a suit by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), seeking final forfeiture of about 8.4 million dollars, and N7.4 billion linked to former first Lady, Patience Jonathan.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun had in a ruling delivered on Feb.28, on the motion for final forfeiture, held that there were conflicting affidavit evidences, which could be best resolved if respective parties were called upon to give oral evidence.
The case was consequently, adjourned until March 13 (today) for oral evidences.
On Wednesday, the case could not proceed as earlier scheduled , while April 12 has been fixed as return date
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the EFCC had secured an interim order for forfeiture of the sums on April 20, 2018, before Olatoregun, following a motion exparte.
It joined as respondents: Patience 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.
NAN reports that on Oct. 29, 2018, EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, had moved his motion for final forfeiture of the sums, urging that same be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, defence counsel, Messrs Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), and Mr Ige Asemudara had respectively moved their processes in opposition to the motion for final forfeiture.
On Jan. 15, the court had admitted electronic evidences presented by respondent counsel, which depicted video exhibits showing various business outfits of the third and sixth respondents
The court had then adjourned for judgment.
In a ruling on Feb.28, the judge had first dismissed an application by counsel to the respondents, seeking to set aside the interim forfeiture orders made on April 20, 2018.
The court had held that it was satisfied that the requirement for the grant of the interim orders was met by the EFCC, adding that it was clear that at the time the interim order was made, there was no pending suit elsewhere.
Meanwhile, giving its ratio on the motion for final forfeiture, the court held that it finds the affidavit evidences conflicting, adding that same can only be resolved, if the parties concerned were called upon to give oral evidences.
The court had held :
“The applicant relied on two grounds (1) That the court has the statutory power under section 17, to grant the reliefs sought and (2) That the monies are suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful activity or unlawful activities, diverted from the Federal Government of Nigeria,”
The court had asked if having regards to the provisions of sections 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, as well as the available facts before the court, the applicant has made out a case for final forfeiture of the sums.
The judge noted the various processes filed by parties to the suit which includes, affidavits, counter affidavits, further affidavits, reply affidavits written addresses, as well as exhibits .
The court had then held :
“I have examined the issues raised on both sides and i came to the conclusion after exhaustively going through the affidavits filed by parties, and i found the affidavits conflicting on material facts.
“I believe in the circumstance, that the court cannot rely on its own opinion alone; the conflict must only be determined or resolved by the evidences of parties themselves, particularly as it relates to the source of the funds.
“I believe parties should be heard and cross examined on this issue.
“Parties are accordingly called upon to give oral testimonies in support of the case presented, ” The court had held.