A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has lifted the order freezing 16 accounts linked to firmer First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
The court vacated the order it made on May 30, freezing 16 separate bank accounts and has fixed January 22, 2018, to hear a Fundamental Human Right suit brought against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Justice Binta Nyako lifted the order that barred Mrs. Jonathan and 10 different organizations connected to her, from having access to the bank accounts containing aggregate sums of $5.8million and N3.5billion.
The court took the decision after it heard an application that Mrs. Jonathan and the 10 companies filed to challenge an ex-parte order that granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, interim ownership of funds in the accounts.
The former first lady had insisted before the court that the anti-graft agency obtained the forfeiture order by an improper use of the judicial process.
Mrs. Jonathan and the 10 firms 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.
She deposed to a six –paragraph affidavit alongside one Chinedu Maduba, and the firms which 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.
Mrs Jonathan said, though she was not served a copy of the order that froze her accounts, she said she only became aware of the existence of the forfeiture order from the court in Abuja few days ago during the hearing of a petition she sent to the National Assembly and after some of her co-applicants tried to operate their accounts to no avail.
She argued that the interim forfeiture order had a life span of 90 days commencing from May 30, insisting that the order had long elapsed without any renewal or extension of its lifespan.
However, Justice Nyako, after hearing both motions, said there was nothing before the court to warrant an extension of the interim forfeiture order.
Vanguard had reported that Mrs. Jonathan had on October 19, also blocked moves by the EFCC to take over assets belonging to her organisation, Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation.
EFCC had in an ex-parte motion it filed before another Judge of the same high court, applied for an order of interim attachment/forfeiture of assets and properties of the foundation at Plot No. 1960, Cadastral Zone A05 Maitama District and Plot No. 1350, Cadastral Zone A00, in Abuja among others.