By Innocent Anaba
Former Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, is now free to access her account with Skye Bank Plc, where she housed an alleged $5. 842, 316. 66 million, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has withdrawn its application for stay of the judgment of a Federal High Court, Lagos, which unfroze the account.
Trial judge in the matter, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, had on April 6, 2017, unfroze Mrs. Jonathan’s account with the said bank, after her lawyer, challenged EFCC for joining her in a suit that she was not a party, and urged the court to unfreeze his client’s account.
Not satisfied with the unfreeze order, the EFCC filed an application for stay of execution of the unfreeze order and also appealed the lower court’s decision.
The two applications, according to EFCC counsel, were dated April 6, and filed on April 7.
However, at the resumed hearing of the matter, yesterday, EFCC’s lawyer informed Justice Olatoregun of the agency’s intention to discontinue the two applications, though he did not give any reason for the withdrawal.
Upon the withdrawal of the two applications, lawyer to Patience Jonathan confirmed the service of the application for withdrawal by the defendants.
He equally informed the court of his intention to withdraw Form 48 (notice of Committal to prison) and Form 49 (Committal to prison), which he said were filed against Skye Bank Plc, in anticipation that it fails to obey the order unfreezing Jonathan’s account.
Upon the submissions of both counsel, Justice Olatoregun granted the withdrawal of EFCC’s two applications, and Patience Jonathan’s Form 48 and Form 49.
It will be recalled that sometime last year, following an application by the EFCC, Justice Olatoregun ordered that the account of the former First Lady housing the sum of $5, 842, 316. 66 and domiciled with Skye bank Plc, be frozen on the ground that the money was suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Also affected by the said order are five limited liability companies that had a total sum of N7, 418, 829, 290.94 billion. The five companies are: Finchley Top Homes Limited, Aribawa Aruera, Magel resort Limited, AM -PM Global network Limited, Pansy Oil and Gas Limited and an account belonging to one Esther Oba, with sum of $429, 381. 87.
The order was sequel to a further and better affidavit in support of the ex-parte summons sworn to by Abdulahi Tukur, an investigating officer with the EFCC.
Tukur had averred that there was urgent need for the court to direct the managers of the bank accounts contained in the schedule filed with the summons FHC/L/CS/1343/16 to in the interim, forfeit the money contain therein to prevent further tampering with the account being sought to be attached.
He had averred that the Patience Jonathan’s money in Skye bank account number 2110001712 with current balance of $5, 842, 316. 66 is reasonably suspected to be proceed of crime.