Patience Jonathan claims rightful ownership of $8.4m, N7.4b with videos

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Lawyer representing former First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan on Tuesday played five videos to prove the legitimate source of $8.4 million and N7.4 billion, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeks to forfeit to the Federal Government.

The videos were projected before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The judge had last April 20 ordered temporary forfeiture of the funds, which EFCC said were suspected to be proceeds of crime.

He respondents include Mrs. Jonathan, Globus Integrated Services Ltd, Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd, Pagmat Oil and Gas Ltd and Magel Resort Ltd and Esther Oba .

The temporarily forfeited sums include N1.085 billion and N226.3 million found in Finchley’s Ecobank account and N39.4 million found in its Diamond Bank account, as well as N55.9 million found in Pagmat Oil and Gas’ Diamond Bank account, among others.

Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, had urged the court to order the money’s final forfeiture to the Federal Government.

However, Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyer Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) opposed the application.

He urged the court to refuse it on the basis that sufficient facts were not placed before the court to warrant a final forfeiture order.

Adedipe argued that Mrs. Jonathan was neither invited by the commission to explain the sources of the funds nor was she charged with any offense.

He objected to the applicant’s claims that the funds represented proceeds of unlawful activities were not substantiated.

On his part, the companies’ counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), argued that EFCC’s motion for final forfeiture was premature, citing provisions of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act.

He argued that it was only when the companies’ affidavits to show cause are argued, and the court finds no merit in them, that the final forfeiture application could be justified.

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Ozekhome told the court that one of the companies makes money lawfully  from selling items such as groceries, drinks, lighting, among others, adding that there was a video clip exhibit of various outfits legitimately run by the company.

The first video, which lasted 25 minutes, showed business outlets and products of Finchley Homes Ltd. They include interior and exterior home decorations, household utensils, textiles, drinks, noodles, furniture, a warehouse, as well as various pickup vans said to belong to the company.

The second video clip ran ran for four minutes, and it showed the business outfit of the Otuoke, Bayelsa State based Magel Resort Ltd, which comprised a luxurious hotel equipped IT centres.

Adedipe also exhibited three videos showing activities of the Women for Change Initiative, a non-governmental organisation linked to Mrs. Jonathan.

The first 10-minute video showed the flag off of the initiative’s campaign, followed by another 10-minute clip showing aspects of the initiative’s empowerment of women through the distribution of food items.

The final video of seven minutes duration showed Mrs. Jonathan visiting Katsina State for the initiative’s flag-off.

The hearing continues today (Wednesday).

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