By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, granted an interim forfeiture order of ARIWABAI ARUERA Reach-out Foundation, properties linked to Dame Patience Jonathan, for 45 days, to enable the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) carry out its investigation on its acquisition.
The prosecution agency had in an ex-parte application before the Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, seeking the court for “an order of interim attachment/forfeiture of the assets and property, Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation linked to former first lady.
According to the commission, the property is subject matter of investigation, enquiry and examination. The properties in contention are situated on Plot No. 1758, Cadastral Zone, B06 Mabushi and Plot No.1350, Cadastral Zone, A00 Central Business District, Abuja.
In the application, EFCC was seeking for “An order stopping any disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale or alienation or otherwise of the property/asset described in the attached herein.
“An order authorising the EFCC to appoint competent person(s)/firm to manage the asset/properties listed in the schedule herein, temporarily forfeited to the federal government pending the conclusion of investigation.
Ruling in the ex-parte motion, Justice Dimgba gave the EFCC 45 days to investigate whether the properties acquired by Mrs. Jonathan was done with the proceeds of crime.
The judge held, “I have carefully considered the processes filed. I have also carefully considered the arguments. Accordingly, a period of 45 days is accorded to the EFCC to investigate on whether on the properties in question were acquired with the proceeds of crime.”
The judge also dismissed the motion challenging the originating summons.
Reacting to the ruling, counsel to Patience Jonathan, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, said the ruling was in their favor because the properties were not forfeited to the government as the EFCC prayed.
“We did not lose, we won. What the EFCC wanted was for the property in dispute attached and forfeited to the government, but the court refused and instead gave them 45 days to further investigate and prosecute if they so wish with liberty to apply for renewal.
“That is actually victory for us as the property was not forfeited”.