Court Strikes Out Jonathan’s Wife’s N2b Suit
A Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out a N2billion rights enforcement suit filed by former First Lady Patience Jonathan against the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC).
Mrs Jonathan alleged that the freezing of accounts belonging to her and some of her relations, following interim forfeiture orders got by the EFCC, and the alleged raiding and searching of her properties, violated her fundamental rights.
She sought, among others, a restraining order against the EFCC and N2billion damages should the court find that her rights were violated.
In a judgment yesterday, Justice John Tsoho held that although the case was not an abuse of court process, as argued by the EFCC, Mrs. Jonathan was not entitled to all the reliefs she sought because she failed to prove her case.
Justice Tsoho resolved two of the three issues identified for resolution against her. The first issue was whether the suit was not an abuse of court process, with the judge holding that it was not.
On the second issue, which relates to whether the various acts of the respondent (EFCC) against the applicant referred to in the affidavit in support of the application violated any fundamental rights of the applicant, the court said the acts alleged did not violate her rights
On the third issue, which was whether the applicant was entitled to the reliefs sought in the application, Justice Tsoho said Mrs. Jonathan was not entitled to any of the reliefs sought because she failed to prove her case.
Justice Tsoho faulted Mrs. Jonathan’s claim that the alleged indiscriminate freezing of her accounts and those of her relations, on allegation of money laundering without any invitation and interrogation amounted to a violation of her fundamental right to own property and fair hearing.
The judge noted that although the applicant fervently denied her involvement in criminal activities, it was her words against that of the respondent. He added that, on that score, it could be said that the steps taken by the respondent are based on reasonable suspicion of the applicant having committed a criminal offence.
Justice Tsoho relied on the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Dangaba vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria 2012 LPELR 19172, particularly pages 23 to 24, to hold that the ex-parte order obtained by the EFCC to attach her assets, which are under investigation, did not violate her rights to fair hearing and to own property.
The judge added that the powers of the court under sections 28 and 29 of the EFCC Act to grant such ex-parte orders, “convers special jurisdiction and is a statutory power which is superior to the rules of court, and the order granted under such power operates until the determination of the civil rights and obligations of the parties with regards to the properties under consideration.
“I am therefore guided by Dangaba case (supra) to hold that the applicant’s rights to own properties and fair hearing have not been violated by the acts of the respondent.”
The judge said she also failed to establish her claim that the EFCC invaded, raided and unlawfully conducted searches on her properties having not provided evidence to counter EFCC’s denial of being involved in the activities alleged.
On her allegation of the violation of her fundamental right against discrimination her political views expressed during the 2015 general elections there is no verifiable evidence before this court to prove that point, and it stands defeated.
The judge said in the absence of any verifiable evidence before the court to prove the point that she was being victimised and discriminated against because of her political view, the point stood defeated.
The judge said: “Having held that the applicant’s case is not made out, I further hold that the applicant is not entitled to any of the reliefs sought in this application. The applicant’s suit is accordingly struck out.”
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