The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says it is heading to court to file an application seeking the total forfeiture of $15,591,700, belonging to former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
The money is currently lodged in the Skye Bank account of four companies: Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Company Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.
The EFCC had frozen the four accounts, which were linked to a former Special Adviser to the President on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa.
However, Jonathan’s wife had claimed in a sworn affidavit that the money in the four accounts belonged to her even though there is no paper evidence to establish a link between her and the companies.
She also urged the court to compel the EFCC to lift the restriction on the accounts.
The EFCC had arraigned the four companies on Thursday and the companies pleaded guilty to money laundering charges.
Punch quoted a senior EFCC official as saying that the commission would subsequently apply for the total forfeiture of the funds.
“The four companies, in whose accounts the monies were lodged, have pleaded guilty to money laundering. We are therefore filing an application, seeking the complete and total forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.
“The $15,591,700 should go (be deposited in) into the Treasury Single Account of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Punch quoted the EFCC source as saying.
On Thursday, the four accused companies pleaded guilty to conspiring with Dudafa; a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs; and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku, to launder the sum of $15, 591,700 on or about November 13, 2013.
The EFCC, while arraigning the seven accused persons before a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday, admitted to the court that the $15.6m were proceeds of theft.
Though Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku pleaded not guilty to the amended 15 counts pressed against them by the EFCC, the four companies, charged along with them, owned up to committing the offence.
The guilty plea was entered on behalf of Pluto, Seagate, Trans Ocean and Avalon by one Friday Davies, Agbo Baro, Bioghowri Frederick and Taiwo Ebenezer, respectively.
The EFCC had since frozen the $15.6m found in the four companies’ accounts with Skye Bank Plc by placing a ‘No Debit Order’ on the four accounts.
But Patience had filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit against the EFCC and the bank, claiming that the money, which the EFCC said were proceeds of theft, belonged to her.
Patience is also seeking damages against Skye Bank in the sum of N200m for what she termed a violation of her right to own personal property under Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution.
But Patience’s suit against the EFCC and Skye Bank has yet to be heard by any judge.
However, the EFCC arraigned Dudafa, Briggs, Bolodeoku and the four companies before Justice Babs Kuewumi on Thursday for money laundering and conspiring to retain proceeds of theft.
The EFCC also alleged that the seven accused persons conspired to forge Skye Bank mandate cards, purporting that they were signed by Friday Davies, Kola Fredrick, Taiwo Ebenezer and Agbo Baro, to prejudice Skye Bank in their bid to launder the $15.6m.
They were also accused of forging a Wema Bank Corporate Account mandate card, purporting that it was signed by Taiwo Ebenezer and Chima John to prejudice Wema Bank.