Nigeria – why court adjourned Patience Jonathan’s suit against EFCC

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Why court adjourned Patience Jonathan’s suit against EFCC

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A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Monday adjourned till April 6 the suit filed by former first lady, Patience Jonathan, seeking to unfreeze bank accounts she claims belong to her.

Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned proceedings after counsel requested for more time to study an affidavit filed by Mike Ozekhome, counsel to the fourth and fifth defendants.

The counsel to the second defendant, Lanre Ogunlesi, a senior advocate of Nigeria, said he had not been served the affidavit said to have been filed by Mr. Ozekhome.

Responding, Mr. Ozekhome said the court’s bailiff was unable to serve the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as the commission had concluded the days activities before his arrival.

“We are just coming into this matter and my lord on Friday we were able to file our paper. We filed on Friday and and my junior is just telling me that the court’s bailiff said that by the time he got to the EFCC, they had closed and this morning they refused service,” said Mr. Ozekhome.

“Now my lord sir, there is another snag we just encountered, the registrar at the court took the same affidavit before another judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Babs Kuewumi, so its not in this court and my lord may not have it here.

“Its for the fourth and fifth defendants and it was erroneously taken to your learned brother’s court. If my lord will be so gracious to give us a stand down or a short adjournment, we will be so grateful.”

Replying, Mr. Ogunlesi, told the court that a stand down would not solve the problem.

“We took an adjournment in this matter over a month ago. Its the chambers of the client that should be served and in the interest of fair hearing, we should have time to respond.”

Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the EFCC, accused the defence counsel of stalling the suit and demanded a compensation of N50,000.

“My lord we’ve not been served,” he said.

“An attempt was made for me to receive some documents. I only said I am not the designated officer to receive such documents. As it stands now, there is no counter affidavit before my lord and I don’t think that should be the basis for adjourning this matter. I also want to correct the impression that I rejected service. It’s not in my nature to refuse service.”

But Mr. Ozekhome insisted that counsel-to-counsel has been in use since his 35 years of law practice.

“The issue of cost should not be an issue at all because at every instance they have been asked to pay, they say they are a government agency and on several occasions have not paid,” he said.

“I will be very wealthy if EFCC pays me all the cost awarded against them. I have about ten cases against them and if I should win one of the cases, I will be a millionaire.”

Mrs. Jonathan had sued the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission after the agency froze the bank accounts containing a total of $15 million.

Also joined in the suit are Skye Bank Plc, and a former Special Assistant to ex-President Jonathan, Waripama Owei-Dudafa.

Others include Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd, Transocean Property and Investment Company Ltd and Globus Integrated Service Ltd.

She is demanding $200 million as damages‎.

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