Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court Lagos, on Tuesday, refused to restrain a brother judge from taking steps in relation to the frozen $15.5m allegedly belonging to Patience Jonathan.
Idris declined an application by counsel for the former first lady, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), who sought an order to restrain Justice Babs Kuewumi from taking further steps on the frozen sum. Adedipe had urged the court to stop Kuewumi from making any forfeiture orders, in respect of the said sum, which was frozen by the EFCC, until the determination of an interlocutory application on the subject.
It will be recalled that Jonathan had instituted a fundamental rights suit against the EFCC, claiming the sum of $200m as damages for inconveniences suffered. In her suit, she had joined the EFCC, Skye Bank plc, and a former aide to ex president Goodluck Jonathan, Warampo Dudafa as respondents.
Also joined in the suit are four companies namely: Pluto Property Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd, Transocean company Ltd and Globus Integrated Service Ltd. It will be recalled also that Dudafa was charged alongside the four companies before Justice Kuewumi, on 15 counts of money laundering.
Representatives of the four companies, which the EFCC claimed were used by Dudafa to launder the money, had all pleaded guilty to the offences. The $15.5m is the same sum which the former first lady claimed belongs to her as sole signatory to the accounts of the companies. When the case was called on Tuesday, Justice Idris acknowledged a letter from counsel representing Skye Bank, Mr. Lanre Ogunlesi, stating that he was indisposed and could not attend the court.
The judge added that since Ogunlesi has requested for a new date to enable him appear in court, the hearing of the application on notice can not proceed. Meanwhile, before the court could adjourned the case, Adedipe urged the judge to direct the EFCC not to tamper with the subject matter of the case pending the hearing of the interlocutory application.
In response, Counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to dismiss the application on the grounds that the accounts which housed the money had been frozen.
He urged the court to dismiss the application with a “wave of hand”; adding that there was already an order of court convicting four defendants for warehousing proceeds of crime. In a short ruling, Justice Idris held that he could not go into the merits or demerits of the interlocutory application, until it is moved.
He ordered accelerated hearing of the case and said that he could not make any order that will be prejudicial to the outcome of the main suit. He consequently, adjourned the case to December 7 for hearing of the main application.
In her suit, Jonathan is urging the court to issue an order discharging the freezing order, and restraining the EFCC and it’s agent from further placing a freezing order on the said accounts.
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