By Onozure Dania
Lagos – The hearing of an appeal filed by the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, before the Court of Appeal Lagos Division, seeking to stop the forfeiture of her $5.7million and N2,421,953,522.78 to the Federal Government was Wednesday stalled, as one of the justices withdrew from the case.
One of the three-man panel, of the appellate court said, he was recusing himself from hearing the appeal “for personal reasons.
Justice John Ikyeh, who presided over the appeal alongside Justices Abimbola Obaseki-Adejumo and Abrahim Georgewill, stated that three judges were required to form a quorum.
But he did not say which of the justices was withdrawing.
Justice Ikyeh said: “One of us is going to recuse himself from this case for personal reasons, so we are not complete. Two of us cannot make a quorum.”
However the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), counsel Rotimi Oyedepo pleaded with the court to consider hearing the appeal as early as possible, preferably during vacation.
Oyedepo said: “If we can be accommodated during vacation. Our challenge is that the trial court has stayed proceedings over the subject matter of this suit.”
But the court observed that because it had not formed a quorum, it could not grant his request.
Justice Ikyeh said: “We can’t write anything because we are not complete. One of us is recusing from this appeal.
The suit is hereby adjourned till September 18, first week after vacation.”
Mrs Patience’s appeal arose following an order obtained by the EFCC on April 26, from the Federal High Court in Lagos, temporarily forfeiting the cash to the government.
The commission had told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, who made the order, that the funds were suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
It said the N5.7million was part of the $6,791,599.64(about N2.1billion) which Mrs Jonathan allegedly directed her aides to pay into her account between February 8, 2013 and January 30, 2015, while her husband was President.
The anti- graft agency stated that Mrs. Jonathan, had earlier spent the sum of $949, 282.98 (about N296, 141,911) from the money.
It said she also withdrew another $100,000 from the account in April, leaving a balance of $5,731,173.55.
Justice Olatoregun also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the N2,421,953,522.78 found in an Ecobank Nigeria Ltd account numbered2022000760 in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd.
The commission said the money also belongs to Mrs Jonathan.
Meanwhile on May 22, Justice Olatoregun suspended proceedings in the hearing of the EFCC’s application seeking permanent forfeiture of the cash pending the appellate court’s decision on the interim order.
She granted the applications of Mrs Jonathan’s lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and that of Counsel for La Wari Furniture and Baths, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) for a stay.
Adedipe said he had filed an application for stay of proceedings pending the appeal’s determination.
Ozekhome added that once an appeal had been entered, the lower court ought to stay proceedings.
Besides, he said, the Court of Appeal had already fixed yesterday to hear the case.
Mrs Jonathan, in the notice of appeal, is praying the court to hold that the law cited by the EFCC in its ex-parte application for the temporary forfeiture was inapplicable.
“A judge is bound by the prayers on the motion paper, and the court has no jurisdiction to make a case for a party different from that presented by the said party,” the appellant said.
The post One of the Justices handling Patience Jonathan’s forfeiture case withdraws appeared first on Vanguard News.