Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja has lifted an order made on May 30, freezing 16 bank accounts linked to wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience.
Justice Nyako in a ruling yesterday ordered the lifting of the freezing order that barred Mrs. Jonathan and 10 organizations linked to her from accessing the accounts containing aggregate sums of $5.8million and N3.5billion.
Yesterday’s ruling was on an application that Mrs. Jonathan and the 10 companies filed to challenge an ex-parte interim freezing order earlier obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Listed as applicants with Mrs. Jonathan, in the application, are the Incorporated Trustees of Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation, Pagmat Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited, Flinchley Top Homes Limited, Incorporated Trustees of Women for Change and Development Initiative Nigeria, Transocean Property and Investment Ltd, Seagate Property Development Investment Company, Globus Integrated Services and Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited.
Justice Nyako upheld the applicants that the interim forfeiture order had elapsed and could not be renewed by the EFCC.
Five of the accounts are domiciled in Skye Bank Plc, seven are in Diamond Bank Plc, while the remaining accounts are with Union Bank Plc, First Bank Plc, Ecobank and Zenith Bank Plc.
The applicants had insisted before the court that the anti-graft agency obtained the forfeiture order by an improper use of the judicial process.
They told the court that the said interim forfeiture order, including a subsequent one that was issued on October 18, had since expired, with the EFCC, failing to establish a nexus between the applicants and any act of illegality.
In a six -paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Chinedu Maduba, Mrs. Jonathan and the firms admitted their ownership of the 16 bank accounts.
The applicants told the court that EFCC had before May 30 when it secured the forfeiture order, also filed a similar application that affected most of the parties, before Justice C.M.A. Olatoregun of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos in suit number FHC/L/CS/1342/2016 with same granted on October 10.
They alleged that EFCC suppressed the fact that it had earlier approached the Lagos Division of court for the same relief it applied for and secured from the court in Abuja.
“That by reason of these orders, the Applicants have been unable to operate their accounts as the banks who are in custody of their accounts have refused to honour any of the applicants’ instructions ostensibly because of the order of this honourable court”, the affidavit said.