The Federal High Court in Abuja has set aside its order made on May 30, freezing 16 accounts belonging to Nigeria’s former First lady, Patience Jonathan; wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Justice Binta Nyako withdrew the order on Tuesday on the grounds that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which secured the freezing order, failed to conduct a proper investigation into the case.
The court’s decision followed an application by the counsel to Mrs. Jonathan asking the court to set aside an ex-parte motion filed by the EFCC for continued control of the accounts.
The lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, described EFCC’s motion as an abuse of court process.
According to him, the court had ordered the EFCC to conduct its investigation within 90 days of freezing the accounts in May, but that the commission failed to carry out the said investigation.
“The judge, Justice Binta, had given the EFCC 90 days within which to investigate and prosecute parties involved in the allegations but they never did that. So we asked the court to set aside the interim forfeiture order. The judge set aside the order granted on May 30,” Mr. Ozekhome said.
The accounts containing over $5 million had been frozen as the money was considered “proceeds of crime” by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency said that the move to request the freezing of the accounts became necessary after it received intelligence report, which showed that the accounts ought to be investigated.
The ex-parte application to freeze the accounts at the time was supported by an originating summons sworn to by one Abdulahi Tukur, an operative of EFCC, and filed before the court by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo.