Former First Lady, Patience Goodluck Jonathan, on Friday asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to order the release of the $5.7m and N2.4bn seized from her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), arguing that the seizure is not justifiable.
Her lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), asked Justice Mojisola Olatoregun to also dismiss the application by the EFCC praying that the money be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Recall that the EFCC had on April 26, 2017 secured an interim forfeiture order of Justice Olatoregun in respect of the funds.
Patience, through her lawyers, had challenged the interim forfeiture order up to the Supreme Court, requesting that the interim forfeiture order be reversed.
The apex court however ordered her to return to the Federal High Court in Lagos to tell the judge reasons, if she has any, why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Speaking before the High Court on Friday, her lawyer argued that it was wrong for the EFCC to tag the money as proceeds of crime, when Patience had committed no crime and when nobody complained that their money was missing.
He maintained that the funds were cash gifts which Patience received when her husband was in office.
Adedipe said such gifts were normal, pointing out that even the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, was seeking to build a university.
The lawyer contended that Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud, which EFCC relied upon to seize Patience’s funds, was only applicable to fraudsters.
“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.
ALSO READ: PDP takes over Zamfara
“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,” the SAN said.
Adedipe said there was no justification for the money to be forfeited to the Federal Government as the EFCC had not proved that Patience stole money from the government or any individual.