The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to affirm an order of interim forfeiture made by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court in respect of the sum of $8.4m linked to the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs Patience Jonathan.
Patience, through his lawyers, led by Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), argued her appeal before the apex court on Wednesday to challenge the order of interim forfeiture.
She, also challenged the constitutionality of section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act and other Fraud related offences Act, which was relied on by the Federal High Court t to issue the order of interim forfeiture.
Responding, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the apex court not only to dismiss the appeal but to also uphold the constitutionality of section 17 of AFFA.
The Justice Dattijo Muhammad-led the five-man panel of the Supreme Court which heard the appeal on Wednesday, fixed March 8 to deliver its judgment.
Other members of the apex court’s panel are Justices Kumai Akaahs, John Okoro, Ejembi Eko and Sidi Bage.
The EFCC had earlier in the year approached the Federal High Court in Lagos with an ex parte application seeking the forfeiture of the sum of $8,435,788.84 and other various sums in various bank accounts linked to the wife of the former President.
The anti-graft agency, in its application anchored on section 17 of AFFA, had urged the court to grant an order of interim forfeiture of the funds which they said were suspected proceeds of unlawful activities.
Patience Jonathan and others including some organisations were joined in the said ex parte application as respondents.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos had on April 20, 2018 granted the ex parte order.
She also ordered the EFCC to publish the court’s order in any major national newspaper to enable the respondents or anyone interested in the funds to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of forfeiture of the said funds should not be made in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Patience had, however, filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal to challenge the competence of the ex parte application filed by the EFCC to request the order of interim forfeiture, the validity of the order made by the trial court and the constitutionality of the section 17 of AFFA.
The Court of Appeal had dismissed her appeal prompting her to approach the Supreme Court to rule in her favour.
Arguing her appeal on Wednesday, her lead counsel, Adedipe, urged the Supreme Court to quash section 17 of AFFA which he contended negated the principles of fair hearing and presumption of innocence prescribed in the constitution.
He also said the ex parte application which the trial court granted failed to disclose the alleged “unlawful activities,” the funds were linked to.
Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) was present at the Wednesday’s proceedings to argue the appeal against the other forfeiture of the other funds but the cases were listed for hearing.