Justice steps down from appeal panel on Patience Jonathan V EFCC case
The suit to stop the forfeiture of $5.7 million and N2.4 billion to the federal government by Patience Jonathan, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, was on Wednesday stalled at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division.
The three-member panel of the appellate court was recusing himself from hearing the appeal for personal reasons.
Justice John Ikyeh, who presided over the appeal alongside Justices Abimbola Obaseki-Adejumo and Abraham Georgewill, noted that three judges were required to form a quorum.
He, however, did not say which of the justices was withdrawing from hearing the case.
“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,” he said.
The counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to consider hearing the appeal preferably during the court’s vacation.
“If we can be accommodated during vacation. Our challenge is that the trial court has stayed proceedings over the subject matter of this suit,” Oyedepo said.
But the court observed that because it had not formed a quorum, it could not grant his request.
Jonathan’s appeal arose from an order obtained by the EFCC on April 26 from the Federal High Court in Lagos, temporarily forfeiting the money to the government.
The commission told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, who made the order, that the funds were suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
The commission had also said that Mrs. Jonathan had earlier spent about N296 million from the money.
It said she also withdrew another $100,000 from the account in April, leaving a balance of $5.7 million.
Olatoregun also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the N2.4 billion found in an Ecobank account, bearing the name, La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd.
The commission said the money also belonged to Mrs. Jonathan.
Olatoregun had on May 22, suspended proceedings in the hearing of the EFCC’s application, seeking permanent forfeiture of the money, pending the appellate court’s decision on the interim order.
She granted the applications of Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe, and that of the counsel for La Wari Furniture and Baths, Mike Ozekhome, for a stay of proceedings, pending the determination of the appeal.