Former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan has lost her appeal against forfeiture of $5.7million to the Federal Government. In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Mojeed Owoade of the Court of Appeal in Lagos, he held that the appeals lacked merit. It upheld the arguments of EFCC counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, and resolved the issues against the appellant. The court upheld the constitutionality of Section 17 of the Advance Fee fraud Act, which empowers the EFCC to apply for the forfeiture to the Federal Government of property reasonably suspected to be proceed of unlawful activity.
According to Owoade, “The section merely shifts the evidential burden of proof on to the appellant to disprove the facts raised by the respondent in its motion on notice for final forfeiture of the funds. To that extent, the provisions of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud are neither in conflict with Section 135 (1) of the Evidence Act 2011 nor with Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution. There is nothing unusual or unconstitutional in the Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act. The respondent placed sufficient materials before the court below to justify the grant of the ex-parte application. Having resolved the two issues in this appeal against the against the appellant, the appeal lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed. I make no order as to cost.”