A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday refused to issue an order for the forfeiture of $15.5million found in the accounts of four companies currently being investigated for fraud and money laundering and have been linked to former first lady, Patience Jonathan.
The Nation reports that at the resumed hearing of the case against the directors of the four companies, the presiding judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi, convicted the companies after a review of the facts of the case by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC)'s lawyer, Mr Oyedepo Rotimi.
The four companies namely Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Friday Davis), Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Agbor Baro), Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Dioghowori Frederick) and Avalon Global Property Development Ltd (represented by Taiwo Ebenezer), had on September 15th, pleaded guilty to laundering $15,591,700 (about N5billion) when they were arraigned.
Following the companies’ conviction, EFCC counsel Rotimi prayed the court to order the forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.
“Having found them guilty, the court should make a consequential order that the money should be forfeited to the Federal Government,” he said.
Justice Kuewumi however refused this request by EFCC, saying that the issue of the ownership of the $15.5 million was still pending. He said he would hand down a sentence on the companies after the trial of the other directors of the companies who pleaded not guilty in the charge.
“The ownership issue is still pending. There’s also a pending suit on the matter.”he said
Recall that Patience Jonathan had in September claimed ownership of the said money. According to her, the money was to be used to settle her medical bills. The first lady had also last month also claimed that the money was gathered from gifts she received from friends and well wishers in all her years as the wife of a deputy governor, governor, Vice President and then President.
The four companies were arraigned alongside former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku. Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku, however, pleaded not guilty to the 17-count charge.
While reviewing the facts in court yesterday, EFCC counsel, Rotimi said the money was stolen from the State House, Abuja.
“EFCC received an intelligence report showing vividly that the fourth to seventh defendants retained proceeds of crime. Our investigations showed that Fetus Iyoha admitted receiving the fund from the first defendant. Iyoha is a domestic staff at the State House. He admitted that funds credited into the accounts were given to him from the State House.”
Rotimi said Iyoha paid $3,096,377.38 into Pluto’s account; paid $3,410,534.71 into Seagate’s account, paid $3,765,711.87 into Trans Oceans’ account, and paid $250,000 into Avalon Global’s accout.
The accounts of the Four companies are domiciled in Skye Bank Plc. Justice Kueuwumi admitted the accounts statements in evidence. He also admitted their mandate cards, certificates of incorporation and statements made to EFCC by the companies’ representatives.Justice Kuewumi adjourned until December 14 for trial.