The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has secured a fresh court order to freeze the Skye Bank account of Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, with a balance of $5.9m.
The fresh freezing order was granted on Wednesday by Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The new freezing order came barely 24 hours after the court had given Patience unfettered access to the seized funds.
The EFCC had earlier placed a “No Debit Order” on the account late last year pursuant to an interim order by Justice Olatoregun.
But Patience, through her lawyer, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), had challenged the action and succeeded in getting the court to vacate the freezing order on April 6, 2017.
The EFCC, which was displeased, had immediately gone on appeal and also filed an application seeking a stay of execution of the freezing order pending the outcome of the appeal.
But in a dramatic twist on Tuesday, a counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, appeared before Justice Olatoregun, saying the commission had changed its mind about challenging the freezing order and applied to withdraw the application to stay the execution of the unfreezing order.
Consequently, the judge on Tuesday struck out the application for stay of execution, giving Patience unfettered access to the funds.
The judge also granted an application by counsel for Skye Bank, Mr. Lanre Ogunlesi (SAN), that the Form 48 and Form 49 filed against his client by Patience to cite his bank for contempt, should be struck out.
However, on Wednesday, the EFCC lawyer, Oyedepo, reappeared before the judge with a new ex parte application to freeze Patience’s account afresh.
Apart from the Skye Bank account with $5.9m, the EFCC also prayed the court to freeze an Ecobank account, with a balance of N2.4bn, which was opened in the name of one La Wari Furniture and Bath Limited.
The anti-graft agency said the funds were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
In an affidavit filed in support of the new application, an operative of the EFCC, Musbahu Abubakar, stated that Patience opened the Skye Bank account on February 7, 2013, and used it to allegedly warehoused proceeds of crime.
According to Abubakar, the former first lady made several cash deposits in United States dollar into the account, through a former Special Assistant to ex-President Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, and a State House steward, Festus Iyoha.
He said as of January 30, 2015, the Skye Bank account had a balance of $6.7m but Patience subsequently withdrew it down to $5.7m.
The EFCC prayed the court to urgently freeze the account so as to prevent Patience for moving the funds.
After hearing the lawyer out, the judge said, “The order is granted as prayed.”
She equally granted the EFCC’s prayer to publish the order in a national newspaper and adjourned till May 15, 2017, for any interested party to appear in court to show cause why the money should not be forfeited to the Federal Government permanently.