Wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience Jonathan has asked a Lagos Federal High to release the money the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seized from her.
In April 2018, the court had ordered interim forfeiture of $5.8m and N2.4bn allegedly traced to the accounts of the former first lady.
According to Punch, Patience’ lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), urged the judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun to dismiss the EFCC application, praying that the money is permanently forfeited to the federal government.
The lawyer argued that there was no justification for the money to be forfeited to the federal government since the defendant had committed no crime.
He argued further that it was wrong for the commission to regard the money as the proceeds of crime, adding that nobody has complained that their money was missing.
Adedipe said that the funds were cash gifts Patience received as the first lady when her husband was in office. ‘Such money gifts are normal’ he said.
The lawyer said, “It is not the law that if the EFCC finds money in an account and it doesn’t like the owner’s face, it comes to court and says ‘forfeit it.
“The government is at liberty to apply for forfeiture but the offence must be stated.
“The first respondent is a wife to a former deputy governor, governor, Vice President, and President.
“Even the current occupier of the office of the First Lady wants to build a university. In this country, First ladies enjoy a lot of goodwill. She (Patience) stated that governors gave her money. Nobody wrote that she stole their money.”
However, counsel for the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, insisted that the money was the proceeds of crime.
“The $5m was not the first respondent’s (Patience’s) legitimate earnings. She was a public servant and a salary earner. The sums cannot be her legitimate income.
“We urge the court to agree with us and forfeit the sum to the Federal Government.”
The EFCC lawyer argued that the bank account in which the N2.4bn was found “was shrouded in mystery and fraud”.