Former First Lady Patience Jonathan
Former First Lady Patience Jonathan/African Free Press

By Ige Olugbenga

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has stopped Patience Jonathan, a former first lady, from withdrawing money from a $5.9m account with Skye Bank.

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The account was ordered to be unfrozen by a court last week.

This is just as the EFCC has begun fresh moves to ensure that a separate $15m, which was traced to her, is permanently forfeited to the federal government.

A reliable source told The PUNCH that the EFCC was able to obtain a ‘stay of execution’, a court order obtained for the purpose of suspending the execution of a court judgment.

The source said, “Shortly after the judge ordered that the account be unfrozen, the EFCC quickly obtained a stay of execution in order to prevent her from having access to the money.

“The EFCC communicated with the relevant authorities at Skye Bank that it was important that she wasn’t allowed to withdraw the money or else, the whole purpose of the freezing would have been defeated.”

However, following the favourable court order, the defendant’s lawyer went before Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, praying the judge to order the EFCC to release to Patience the sum of $15.591m, which was seized from four companies by the anti-graft agency.

Justice Idris adjourned to May 8, 2017 to decide whether or not to grant the prayer.

The fresh move by the EFCC is coming about three days after President Muhammadu Buhari instructed anti-graft agencies to stop losing court cases and be more diligent with their investigations.