A Lagos Federal High Court has said that issues formulated by wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience over her $15.5million account frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were baseless.
The court therefore declined unfreezing the account.
Patience Jonathan is praying the court to unfreeze her accounts with Skye Bank containing about $15.5million, which the Exonomic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) labelled proceeds of crime.
Respondents in the case are the EFCC, Skye Bank Plc, Mr. Jonathan’s former aide, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd., and Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd.
Also joined are Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd. and Avalon Global Property Development Ltd. as respondents.
But presiding on the case on Monday, Justice Mohammed Idris ordered parties to file pleadings since issues had been joined as to the ownership of the money, adding that the defendants formulated different issues from those formulated by the plaintiff in the originating summons.
He said, “The issues formulated by all the defendants are baseless. They amount to no issue and will be ignored by the court. I hold that this court lacks the competence to determine the issues raised by the defendants in their written addresses, having abandoned the specific issues formulated by the plaintiff in the originating summons.
“It is unfortunate. I say this because the issues raised by the defendants appear on the face of it, are good and deserving to be considered on their merit. But as I understand it to be the law, sentiment has no basis in the adjudicatory system.”
According to the judge, in any case the processes were not correctly prepared, any fault would seriously affect the proceeding “since the court cannot re-formulate the issues for determination”.
He went further to submit that there was a contention as to issues and facts as regards the ownership of the money.
Justice Idris, who said that all the counter-affidavits filed by the defendants contained disputed facts that cannot be decided without oral evidence said, “In respect of this issue, the contention appears divided and there is clearly an air of friction in the proceedings.
“In the light of the above affidavit evidence, it cannot in my view be rightly contended that there are no disputed facts or substance as to the ownership of the said funds.
“The issues of fact raised by the defendants herein are not spurious or irrelevant. The affidavit of the plaintiff is also not conjectural. In my view, the facts are contentious and oral evidence needs to be led by the parties herein.
“In the light of the above facts, this case is generally not suitable for an originating summons procedure. In the circumstances, the court hereby orders that the parties herein file pleadings in accordance with the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009.
“Trial shall then proceed accordingly. This is the order of the court.”
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