Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has adjourned to June 27, 2019 to deliver judgment in an application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, seeking the final forfeiture of the sums of $8,435,788.84 (about N3bn) and N9.2bn linked to the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience.
The former First Lady is joined in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/620/18 alongside some companies namely: Globus Integrated Services Limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, AM-PM Global Netwotk Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited and Magel Resort Limited.
The money was said to be warehoused in some banks, including Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank Plc), Diamond Bank Plc, Stanbic-IBTC and First Bank Plc.
Justice Olatoregun had fixed May 8, 2019 to deliver judgement in the application filed by the EFCC for the final forfeiture of the funds, but deferred judgement and adjourned to May 24, 2019 for further hearing of “oral explanatory evidence” by the parties.
At the resumed sitting on May 24, one Esther Oba, a younger sister to Patience and Special Assistant on Household Administration to the former President, told the Court how her name and picture were used to open an account with Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank PLC) without her being a signatory to the account.
Under cross-examination by the applicant counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Oba told the court that the several billions found in her Skye Bank account were gifts she received when she lost her mother.
She also admitted that the account was operated by one of her siblings on the order of the former First Lady.
“The money given to me as gifts were first kept in her house and she later gave all the money in tranches to one Festus Oyoha to deposit on her behalf in Skye Bank.
“The sum of $400,000 was given to Festus Oyoha as first deposit in the bank.”
She further told the court that she had two different signatures she used for withdrawal of funds from banks and for other activities.
Consequently, Oyedepo moved an oral application seeking an order of the court to direct Oba to sign the two different signatures before the court.
However, counsel to Patience, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, and counsel to Oba, Ige Asemudara, told the court that two different signatures could not be a substantive reason to determine whether the source of the funds was unlawful or otherwise.
Justice Olatoregun, however, overruled them and ordered Oba to sign before the court.
The two different signatures were, thereafter, tendered by Oyedepo and admitted in evidence by the court.
Counsel to the second respondent, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, told the court that Oyedepo must show to the court the predicate offence that the funds are unlawful enrichment.
According to Ozekhome, “the second respondent is a furniture company that deals in interior and exterior of furniture. So, various sums of money to the tune of billions were paid into the account of the company.”
Adedipe, aligned with Ozekhome, further arguing that the funds were legitimately made.
They also argued on the conflicting depositions in the affidavits.
In his response, Oyedepo told the court that one Ubong Ikom, who was said to have deposed to the affidavits by the counsels to the respondents, was not the one who did.
At that point, Ozekhome called two witnesses, Obinna Charles, a Sales and Procurement Officer with Am-Pm Global Network Ltd., and Emmanuel Uku, also a Sales and Procurement Officer with Pagmant Oil and Gas Ltd, to attest to the fact that Ikom had deposed to the affidavits.
Led in evidence by Ozekhome, both witnesses told the court that they knew Ikom as the person who deposed to the affidavits.
However, during cross-examination, both witnesses denied being aware of any transactions in both companies that could have led to the payment of the several billions of Naira.
They also denied knowing the owner of Pagmant Oil and Gas Ltd and Am-Pm Global Network Ltd.
“I am just a Sales and Procurement Officer of the company, and I know nothing about who owns the company,” both witnesses had in their separate testimonies told the court.