The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has filed a motion before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja, which sought to take possession of assets belonging to Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation owned by Mrs Patience Jonathan.
The EFCC, in an ex-parte motion, applied for an order of interim attachment/forfeiture of assets and properties of the foundation.
It prayed the court to grant it the ownership of Plot No. 1960, Cadastral Zone A05 Maitama District and Plot No. 1350, Cadastral Zone A00, in Abuja.
The anti-graft agency, through its counsel, Benjamin Manji, equally sought for “An order stopping any disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale or alienation or otherwise of the property/asset decribed in the schedule attached herein.
The EFCC also sought “An order authorizing the EFCC to appoint a competent person(s)/ firm to manage the asset/property listed in the schedule herein, temporarily forfeited to the federal government pending the conclusion of investigation”.
The motion ex-parte marked FHC/Abj/CS/872/2017, was predicated on section 6(d), 7(2), 24(a), 26(1), 28 and 29 of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004, section 330(a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, section 15 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, as amended, and section 44(2) (K) of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
The Commission told the court that the assets/properties of Mrs. Jonathan’s foundation “are subject matter of investigation, enquiry and examination by the EFCC”.
It said there was need to preserve the assets/properties “pending the conclusion of investigation and possibly determination of criminal charges that may be instituted against the suspects.
“If there is any transaction on the property by the suspects by way of disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale and alienation or otherwise of the asset or property described in the schedule herein, it will render nugatory any consequential order(s) which the court may make if the suspect(s) is convicted of the offences alleged against her/them after possible due trial”, the agency added.
Besides, in a 12-paragraphed supporting affidavit that was deposed to by one of its investigators, Kolawole Mukaila, the EFCC said it has a Special Task Force investigating “alleged amounts of money laundered by the former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan into various account and properties were purchased with nothing to show for”.
Mukaila who identified himself as a member of the special investigating team, averred: “That sometimes in 2016, an alleged case of conspiracy and money laundering was received via inteligence report to the office of the Executive Chairman and referred to my team for investigation.
“That my team swung into action to conduct a descreet investigation by writing letters to Ecobank, Diamond bank, Corporate Affairs Commission and AGIS.
“That in the course of investigation, it was revealed from the responses from the C.A.C and Abuja Geographical Information Systems that the plots of land were allocated to Ariwabai Aruera Reach out Foundation belonging to the former first lady, Patience Jonathan and her allies.
“That investigation further reveals the accounts held by Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation had the former first lady, Patience Jonathan as one of the trustees and signatories of the account. Copies of the response from Diamond bank and Ecobank are herebu attached and marked as Exhibit EFCC 2A- 2B respectively.
“That investigation also revealed that the plots of land were allocated in 2010 and the Certificate of Occupancy was issued in 2011.
“That all the above stated payment/transfers/purchases had no contract award backing it up whatsoever and as such was reasonably suspected to be fraudulent payments and an illegal dissipation of the nation’s resources”, he added.
However, lawyers to Mrs Jonathan, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe and Chief Mike Ozekhome argued against ex parte motion, noting “is not one of the modes of commencement of action under Order 3 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure Rules) 2009, and it is not known or provided for by any law or rules of court”
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, after listening to the submission by Ozekhom, said he was minded to hear motions from the two sides in the interest of justice.
He cosequently adjourned hearing on the matter till November 11.