The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to apply for the final forfeiture of choice properties allegedly owned by former First Lady Patience Jonathan.
But the commission has been having difficulty in getting the original titles of the assets. They include Aridolf Resort, Wellness and Spa and eight others. The anti-graft commission may ask the court to compel the agencies with the titles in Bayelsa and Rivers states to release them.
The assets in Bayelsa are two marble duplexes at Otioko GRA by Isaac Boro Expressway; a Glass House on Sani Abacha Expressway; Akemfa Etie Plaza by AP filling Station, Melford Okilo Road; and Aridolf Resort, Wellness and Spa on Sani Abacha Expressway.
Others in Port Harcourt are former Customs Service Officers Mess; two duplexes at 2/3, Bauchi Street; landed property with blocks at Ambowei Street; 3 Luxury apartments of four-bedroom each at Ambowei Street; and Grand View Hotel on Airport Road. The EFCC might consider non-conviction options to recover suspicious assets allegedly traced to the ex-First Lady, it was learnt.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Investigations into the assets traced to the ex-First Lady have been completed. What is left is retrieving the land titles of these suspicious assets. But some land registries are not cooperating with us.
”We cannot allow these assets to continue to deteriorate. Very soon, we will apply for the final forfeiture of the affected assets – in line with our mandate. We will apply to the court for the final forfeiture of the assets to give room for those who owned the properties to come forward. We want to put the assets into public use like we have done in some cases of those implicated in the $2.1billion arms deals.
Responding to a question, the source said: “ Acting on orders from above, some officers in the Ministry of Lands in Rivers State have been blocking EFCC’s access to vital documents. “If they continue, we will take action against such officers for obstructing this agency from doing its work.
“We have made them to realise that by virtue of Section 7 of the EFCC Act , these officers are expected to cooperate with us.” Section 7 of the EFCC Act states: “The commission has power to (a) cause any investigations to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organisation has committed any offence under this Act or other law relating to economic and financial crimes.
“(b) Cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income.”
It was learnt that the ex-First Lady had not been interrogated in line with a deal brokered by the Abdulsalami Abubakar Peace Committee. Another source said: “Part of the deal was that any loot or suspicious asset traced to the former first family might be mutually discussed and quietly returned.
“But the deal went awry when the ex-First Lady decided to approach the court to seek the enforcement of her fundamental human rights and to challenge the freezing of her accounts.”