Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday, April 12, 2019, fixed May 9, 2019 to deliver judgment in an application for final forfeiture filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of the sums of $8,435,788.84 (about N3 billion) and N9.2 billion (totalling about N12.2 billion), linked to Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The court had, on April 19, 2018, ordered an interim forfeiture of the money, following an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC against Patience and some companies.
The companies named in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/620/18 are: Globus Integrated Service Limited, Finchley Top Homes Limited, AM-PM Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited and Magel Resort Limited.
The money was said to be warehoused in some banks, including Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank Plc), Diamond Bank Plc, Stabic-IBTC and First Bank Plc.
At today’s proceedings, two prosecution witnesses, Orji Chukwuma and Oghare Ogbole, who are investigators with the EFCC, deposed and adopted the affidavit showing cause why the money forfeited in interim, should be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
When asked by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, to explain the details of his investigations and findings into the alleged fraud, Chukwuma said the first respondent, Jonathan, was a public servant with the Bayelsa State Government and a Permanent Secretary between July 23, 2012, and October 2, 2014.
The witness also informed the court that investigations revealed that, even after the first respondent, Jonathan, had retired, she was still receiving salaries up until May 12, 2018.
When asked to state if there were any connections between Jonathan and the other respondents, he said: “There is, indeed, a connection between them, as the proceeds of unlawful activities were warehoused by the third to the sixth respondent (Finchley Top Homes Limited, Am-Pm- Global Network Limited, Pagmat Oil And Gas Limited and Magel Resort Limited).
“In a bid to conceal the funds, the seventh respondent, Esther Oba’s name would appear on several documents and the signature would be that of the first respondent.
“This was done to enable them manage the proceeds of this unlawful accounts and more of other fraudulent activities. “When asked to reveal his investigation into the Women for Change and Development Initiative, Chukwuma told the court that it was incorporated by “Dame Patience Jonathan and some trustees, including Mrs. Oyewole, Iyom Josephine and some Others. “But the first respondent was the sole signatory to the account.”
According to him, various sums of money were deposited by various individuals, companies and state governments.
He said: “A total sum of N1, 212,000,000 (One billion, Two hundred and Twelve Million Naira) only was paid in by one Mrs. Bola Shagaya, which sum represented part of proceeds of corrupt enrichment.
“It was received from Index Petrolube African Limited and Autodex Nigeria Limited by Practoil Limited on behalf of the first respondent, who used her influence as the First Lady to influence NNPC in arranging allocation of Dual Purpose kerosene (DPK) to Petrolube African Ltd and its subsidiary Company Index Autodex Nigerian Ltd.”
He also told the court that Mrs. Yemisi Oyewole, one of the members of Board of Trustee, was interviewed and she told his team that the money was from things they sold in their shop.
The witness, however, told the court that investigations showed that the money in the possession of the 3rd to 6th respondents’ accounts did not have anything to do with sales, adding that “they did not render any services to anyone”.
“They are proceeds of unlawful activities. Some of the money was taken from Aso villa in Dollars (cash) and converted to Naira and paid into the account of one of the stewards at Aso Villa, Mr Peter, who said in his statement that he made deposits with fictitious names into this account.”
Chukwuma also denied the claim by the 7th respondent, Oba that the money was her salaries and estacodes, saying, “I visited a plaza she owns and it is worth Millions.
“There is no place in her salary statements of account that shows she earned that much.
Chukwuma, under cross-examination by Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, was asked if he knew that the former First Lady had a pet project ( Women for Change and Development Initiative) and also if he reviewed the Constitution of the NGO.
In his response, he told the court that his investigations revealed Women for Change and Development Initiative as a company that was used to warehouse proceeds from unlawful activities, while its Constitution was different from what it was actually being used for.
When asked if any of the people made donations to the project did so under compulsion by the first respondent, Jonathan responded, among other revelations, that he did not investigate the state government that paid in money “as it is a body not a person; and my understanding of the relationship of the first respondent and Shagaya is that they are co conspirators.
Asked by counsel to the second respondent, Gboyega Oyewole, SAN, about Somprie Omeibi, whom he said is the promoter of the company, he said: “I met with Omebie’s lawyer who informed him that he incorporated the company.
“He said he is not an employee of the first to the seven respondents.” During cross-examination, Ogbole, said the Women for Change and Development Initiative NGO could not have written any letter against the first respondent that she had defrauded it because “she is still the sole signatory of the Women for Change and Development Initiative.”
When asked by Mike Ozekhome, SAN, if she ever interviewed the first respondent or Dudafa whom he said transferred money to the third and the sixth respondents, she said she did not do personally.
Mojisola Olatoregun then adjourned the case to May 9 and 13, 2019.