Justice Tijjani Ringim of the Federal High Court, in Lagos, yesterday fixed March 28, 2023, for the commencement of hearing on the final forfeiture application of the sum of $5.8 million and N2, 421, 953, 522. 78 billion, allegedly belonging to former first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
The judge fixed the date, after ruling on the arguments canvassed by counsel to parties in the suit.
On April 26, 2017, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, now retired, had granted an ex parte application for the interim forfeiture of the said sums filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge also ordered that the said amount warehoused by the defunct Skye Bank (now Polaris) and Ecobank Nigeria Plc, be forfeited in the interim.
However, the order was vigorously challenged up to Supreme Court, but the apex court ordered that the lower court should continue with the hearing of the matter.
Upon Justice Olatoregun’s retirement, the suit was transferred to Justice (Professor) Chuka Obiozor.
But before Justice Obiozor could preside over the matter, he was transferred to another jurisdiction of the court, consequently, the matter was inherited by Justice Ringim.
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, counsel to La Wari Furniture and Baths Limited, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), told the court that his client had two pending applications before the court.
The two applications were seeking to stay proceedings on the suit, based on its pending appeal, and for the matter to start de novo (afresh).
Also, Mr. Sammie A. Somiari, lawyer to the former first lady, Patience Jonathan aligned himself with the submission of Ozekhome.
But counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN) opposed the applications, arguing that the court’s business of the day was to hear application seeking final forfeiture of the money.
Justice Ringim, after taken arguments from counsel, acceded to the EFCC’s lawyer submissions.
Consequently, by the agreement of the counsel, Justice Ringim adjourned till March 28, for hearing of application for final forfeiture of the money.
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