The Supreme Courtroom has reserved judgment until March 8, 2019, within the enchantment lodged by spouse of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Endurance, contesting the powers of the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee (EFCC) to measurement funds in financial institution accounts that have been linked to her.
Within the stated enchantment, the previous First Woman particularly prayed the Supreme Courtroom to set-aside a forfeiture order the Federal Excessive Courtroom in Lagos made on Could 8, 2018 which granted the EFCC interim possession of N9.2 billion and $8.four million that have been allegedly traced to her accounts.
Endurance Jonathan, who formulated three points for the apex court docket to find out, urged the court docket to go decide whether or not part 17 of the Advance Price Fraud and different Associated Offences Act 2006, which allows the EFCC to grab belongings which might be suspected to have been unlawfully acquired, just isn’t in battle with provisions of the 1999 structure that ensures the presumption of innocence of accused individuals.
Her authorized illustration within the prosecution of the enchantment, Mr. Kehinde Adedipe SAN, informed the apex court docket that part 17 of the Advance Price Fraud Act gave EFCC the nod to method a court docket to grab belongings it thought of “suspicious”, with out notifying the proprietor.
He stated part 6 of the Act supplied that seizure and forfeiture of such belongings should not be based mostly on conviction for any crime.
It was his argument that the Courtroom of Enchantment in Lagos was fallacious to have upheld the interim forfeiture order the EFCC secured in opposition to her shopper, on the premise that Mrs. Jonathan was at liberty to use and adduce explanation why it ought to be set-aside.
“My lords, what that part has carried out is to criminalise an accused particular person even with out conviction.
“The implication is that by an utility that’s made ex-parte, a person is assumed to have dedicated an infraction of the legislation.
“Listening to one party and asking the opposite aspect to return again and justify why an order ought to be vacated, doesn’t imply that they’ve been granted equal alternative as supplied for within the structure.
“It’s reversing the onus, even with out trial or conviction. The aim of the structure is to guard the residents.
“On this case, it appears to be like prefer it has already been assumed that the citizen was responsible by taking away her belongings”, Adedipe argued.
Moreover, he contended that EFCC didn’t state the character of any illegal act that produced the funds it suspected to have been acquired by fraud.
He maintained that it was fallacious for the anti-graft company to depend on mere suspicion to grab funds traced to the ex-First Woman. “There was no materials in anyway to again such suspicion. I, subsequently, urge your lordships to permit this enchantment and set-aside the choice of the Courtroom of Enchantment in addition to to dismiss the judgement of the Excessive Courtroom upon which the interim forfeiture order was made”, Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyer added.
In the meantime, EFCC, by its lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the apex court docket to dismss the enchantment as grossly missing I benefit, insisting that Mrs.
“Jonathan’s contentions have been based mostly on false impression of the legislation. EFCC maintained that it has powers beneath the legislation to grab belongings which might be “moderately suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of illegal actions”.
The Fee informed the apex court docket that the decrease court docket had earlier than it granted the interim forfeiture order, compelled it to make a publication, requesting Mrs. Jonathan or any person who had curiosity within the fund to look and present trigger why it shouldn’t be forfeited to the federal government. “My lords, as a substitute of coming to the excessive court docket to point out trigger, this appellant ran to the Courtroom of Enchantment.
“I urge your lordships to dismantle this seems and uphold the constitutionality of part 17 of the Advance Price Fraud Act”, the EFCC’s lawyer submitted.
After that they had listened to each side, a five-man panel of Justices of the apex court docket led by Justice Musa Dattijjo, adjourned the matter until March Eight for judgment.
The court docket nevertheless declined request to listen to one other enchantment Mrs. Jonathan filed to problem an order of the Federal Excessive Courtroom in Abuja that granted EFCC momentary possession of two properties in Abuja that have been linked to her.
The apex court docket famous that the stated enchantment which Mrs. Jonathan filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, was not listed within the cause-list for listening to on Wednesday.
Will probably be recalled that Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Excessive Courtroom in Lagos granted interim forfeiture order in opposition to Mrs. Jonathan on the energy of an ex-parte movement by EFCC.
The seized funds have been stated to be within the custody of the defunct Skye Financial institution Plc, Diamond Financial institution Plc, Stanbic IBTC Financial institution and First Financial institution Plc.
EFCC had in a 15-paragraph that was deposed by one Huleji Tukura, averred that its investigations revealed that the funds have been siphoned from the Bayelsa State Authorities treasury.
It alleged that the funds have been moved when the previous first woman served as a everlasting secretary in one of many Ministries within the state.
“The funds sought to be forfeited to the Federal Authorities of Nigeria usually are not the first respondent’s lawful earnings however are reasonably moderately suspected to be proceeds of illegal actions”, it insisted.