Patience Jonathan used NGO as front for money laundering – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said a recent application filed by Patience, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, before the Federal High Court in Abuja has justified its assertion that a non-governmental organisation, Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation, being investigated for corruption, was a front for the former first lady.

The EFCC stated this in its response to an application filed by Mrs. Jonathan challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the commission’s ex parte application for an order of interim forfeiture of two properties in Abuja registered in the name of the NGO.

The said properties are located on Plot 1960 Cadastral Zone A05, Maitama District, and Plot 1350 Cadastral Zone A00, both in Abuja.

On getting to know about the ex parte motion filed by the EFCC, seeking an interim forfeiture of the properties, Mrs. Jonathan, through her lawyers, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had filed an application to challenge the jurisdiction of the court to hear the commission’s motion.

On October 19, 2017 when the EFCC’s ex parte motion was scheduled to be heard by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyers appeared in court, insisting that the commission’s motion could not be heard in view of their application already filed to challenge the court’s jurisdiction.

An investigator with the EFCC, Kolawole Mukaila, deposed to the commission’s counter-affidavit.

He opposed Mrs. Jonathan’s application, claiming that he was a member of the Special Task Force “investigating alleged amounts of money laundered by the former first lady into various accounts and properties purchased which are disproportionate to her known source of income.”

He said since the commencement of the EFCC investigations, the former first lady had, through the same set of lawyers, filed a fundamental human rights enforcement suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/586/2017, demanding N2bn against the EFCC for an alleged violation of her right.

Mukaila noted that Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation, in whose name the Abuja properties being sought to be forfeited were held, was not a party to the former first lady’s fundamental human rights’ enforcement suit.

But in her motion challenging the EFCC’s ex parte application, Mrs. Jonathan, through her lawyers, argued that the EFCC’s ‘Ex parte Originating Summons’ was not one of the modes of commencement of action under Order 3, Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure Rules) 2009, and that it was not known or provided for by any law or rules of court.

She added that the said motion by the EFCC was “an abuse of court process, as same was filed in order to overreach” her fundamental human rights enforcement suit pending before another judge, Justice John Tsoho of the court in suit marked FHC/ABJ/586/2017.

On Friday, Mr. Benjamin Manji appeared for the EFCC while Adedipe led Mrs. Jonathan’s legal team.

Justice Dimgba on Friday fixed December 5 for hearing of the motion after Adedipe asked for time to file a further reply to the EFCC’s response to his client’s application.

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