By Tayo Joseph Lagos, Nigeria
Justice Mojisola Olaterogun of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos has fixed September 24, 2017 for hearing in the application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, seeking a final forfeiture order on the sum of $5.8m allegedly belonging to Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The adjournment came following a Court of Appeal order on stay of proceedings sought by Jonathan.
The court had, on April 26, 2017, ordered an interim forfeiture of the money, following an ex-parte motion by the EFCC.
In granting the temporary forfeiture, the court had adjourned to May 18, 2017 for the respondent to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
However, at the last adjourned date, counsel to Jonathan, Ifedapo Adedipe, SAN, told the court that he needed more time to file necessary responses to the court’s order.
Adedipe also alleged that the Commission failed to publish the notice of the court’s order in a national newspaper in time.
Jonathan’s counsel further asked for an adjournment, which was granted by the court.
However, the proceedings could not continue today owing to a pending appeal at the appellate court.
While addressing the court, counsel to the former First Lady, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, said; “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 proceedings in this matter.”
In his response, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that he was not aware of any hearing notice by the appellate court.
However, Ozekhome showed a copy of the appellate court’s hearing notice to the court.
Consequently, in his her short ruling, Justice Olatoregun said: “As a result of the appeal notice that has been entered, coupled with the hearing notice slated for July 5, I am inclined to grant an adjournment in this matter for parties to ventilate their views in the appellate court.”