Federal High Court Lagos on Monday suspended further proceedings in the hearing of an application seeking permanent forfeiture of $5.9m allegely belonging to the wife of former President, Goodluck Jonathan.
This is sequel to filing of appeal at the Appeal Court by Mrs Patience Jonathan.
Patience’s lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe and Chief Mike Ozekhome, who disclosed this on Monday, therefore, urged Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court to suspend further proceedings in the case pending the outcome of the appeal.
Ozekhome, who represented La Wari Furniture and Bath Limited, whose Ecobank account with a balance of N2.4bn also belonging to the former First Lady, was also frozen, argued that it would be disrespectful for the High Court Judge to proceed with the case after the appeal had been entered and the appellate court had issued a hearing notice.
“The appeal in this matter has been entered and going by Rule 5 of the Court of Appeal Rules, this court ceases to exercise jurisdiction to proceed in this matter. It will amount to an illegal judicial voyage if this court embarks on the proceeding in this matter,” Ozekhome contended at the Monday proceedings.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun therefore ordered stay of proceedings pending the outcome of an appeal filed by Jonathan, challenging the temporary forfeiture of the said sum.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had sought an order of permanent forfeiture of the funds to the Federal Government.
Justice Olatoregun on April 26 made an interim order, forfeiting the money based on an application by EFCC, which said the money was suspected to be “proceeds of crime”.
Olatoregun had also ordered the temporary forfeiture of N2.4bn found in an Ecobank account in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd.
The commission said the money was also linked to Mrs Jonathan.
On Monday, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, had earlier told the court that he was ready to move his application for the money’s forfeiture, adding that the respondents had filed counter-affidavits.
Ruling, Justice Olatoregun held that it would be in the interest of justice to await the Court of Appeal decision.
“I have seen the hearing notice issued by the Court of Appeal. I believe it will be in the interest of justice for parties to ventilate their views at the Court of Appeal.
“I will, therefore, adjourn this case until Sept. 20,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has fixed July 5, 2017 to hear Mrs Jonathan’s appeal challenging the interim order of the Federal High Court in Lagos which temporarily froze her Skye Bank account with a balance of $5.9m.