An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Monday ordered the forfeiture of two properties belonging to former first lady, Patience Jonathan.
The properties are located at Plot No. 1960 Cadastral Zone A05, Maitama District and Plot No. 1350 Cadastral Zone A00. Both properties are located in Abuja.
The court’s decision followed an ex-parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the forfeiture of the said properties pending the determination of investigations relating to the said assets.
The EFCC accused the former first lady of using the properties for the running of an NGO which the commission said it found to be fraudulent.
The anti-graft agency also asked the court to stop Mrs. Jonathan from making any attempt to sell the properties.
The judge, Nnamdi Dimgba, however, gave the commission 45 days to conclude its investigations and charge Mrs. Jonathan to court.
The court also ruled that EFCC could approach the court to seek extension of the forfeiture order before the expiration of the 45 day period.
A request by Mrs Jonathan’s lawyer for the court to refuse the ex-parte application was turned down.
“Having dismissed the motion challenging the ex-parte originating summons, I have gone ahead to carefully consider the application along with all the materials placed before the court to support the request for same, which materials have already been listed at the commencement of this ruling.
“In so far as the essence of this application is to preserve an asset pending the completion of an investigation, I am convinced that those materials placed before me, justify a favourable exercise of the court’s discretion to grant the relief sought in the application.
“I hereby accordingly grant relief 1 and relief 2 sought.
“Relief 3 is refused because it is not supported by the grounds of the application and thus unnecessary in the circumstances of the application.
“The order of court granting the relief shall last only for a period of 45 days within which the applicant must conclude their investigations and file necessary criminal charges where investigation reveals the commission of a crime.”
The court ruled that a valid application for extension of time can only be brought prior to the expiration of the 45 day ultimatum.
“The applicant is at liberty to apply for a renewal of the order on cause, provided that such an application to be valid is made before the expiry of the 45 days validity period granted by the court.” Premuim Times