Patience Jonathan
Former First Lady Patience Jonathan Photo:

By Ige Olugbenga

The Court of Appeal in Lagos, was unable to hear an appeal filed by the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, seeking to stop the forfeiture of $5.9m found in her Skye Bank account to the federal government.

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The court, on Wednesday, said one of the three appeal court justices meant to hear the appeal withdrew from the case for “personal reasons.”

The three-man appeal court panel, comprising Justices John Ikyeh, Abimbola Obaseki-Adejumo and Abraham Georgewill, had earlier fixed Wednesday to hear the appeal.

But when the case was called on Wednesday morning, Justice Ikyeh, who presided over the panel, told the counsel on both sides that the appeal could no longer be heard as one of the three justices has decided to withdraw for personal reasons.

Justice Ikyeh did not mention the name of the member of the panel who withdrew and said the appeal has to be adjourned.

“One of us is going to recuse himself from this case for personal reasons, so we are not complete. Two of us cannot make a quorum. So, we’ll give you a date,” Justice Ikyeh said.

In the circumstances, counsel for the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the appellate court to fix a new date during the court’s long vacation which would last till September.

Oyedepo said the EFCC, which is seeking a court order permanently forfeiting Patience’s $5.9m to the federal government, has been handicapped because the Federal High Court in Lagos, which is hearing the case, had already stayed proceedings to await the decision of the Court of Appeal.

But Justice Ikyeh reiterated that nothing could be done because two justices could not form a quorum.

“We can’t write anything because we are incomplete. One of us cannot sit over this appeal,” he said.

The case was subsequently adjourned till September 18, 2017,  after the court’s vacation.