Former First Lady faults firms that pleaded guilty
Former First Lady Patience Jonathan yesterday admitted that she is the owner and signatory to the five accounts in which the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) found over $22.3million.
She said she has never received any money from any unknown sources paid into the five accounts.
But she was silent on the sources of the cash wired into the accounts.
Mrs. Jonathan, however, explained that the accounts were opened to facilitate her travel overseas, particularly for medical treatment, sundry purchase for herself and her late mother Mrs. Charity Oba (Mama Sisi).
She indicted Mr. Wampemo-Owei Dudafa, the Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan, and Skye Bank officials for registering phony companies for four of the five accounts.
She denied opening the accounts in the names of cooks, drivers and artisans.
In a statement by Yemi Akinbode, Mrs Jonathan picked holes in the authenticity of the representatives of the four companies who pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering.
He quoted her lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole, as saying she would appeal the validity of the representatives of Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.
The former First Lady’s counsel alleged that the prosecution presented four unknown people as the companies’ representatives, all of whom he said did not show letters authorising them by their respective boards to represent them in the case.
“This is a clear evidence of the desperation of the prosecution to pull down the former First Lady and confiscate her hard-earned money,” the statement quoted Oyewole as saying.
The ex-First Lady, in another statement by Media Assistant Chima Osuji, said although the accounts were opened in 2013, she started operating them in 2014.
She said the remittances into the five accounts were one-third of the $31.7million being claimed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mrs. Jonathan said she was yet to get a copy of the no debit/freezing order issued by the EFCC on the accounts and likened the agency’s investigation to Nuremberg trials.
According to Wikipedia, Nuremberg trials were “a series of military tribunals, held by the Allied Forces after World War II which were most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, judicial and economic leadership of Nazi Germany who planned, carried out, or otherwise participated in The Holocaust and other war crimes.” The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg in Germany.
The statement said: “Sometime in 2013, following the advice of top officials of the EFCC then in the company of Hon. Wampemo-Owei Dudafa who was the Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to the former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, that she should not travel oversees with cash, otherwise she may contravene Money Laundering laws, Mrs Patience Jonathan agreed to open accounts with Skye Bank Plc and directed Hon. Dudafa to see to it.
“Hon Dudafa came with two bank managers (officials) of Skye Bank Plc with the account opening forms which she duly signed.
“These accounts were all dollar based Platinum Visa cards in respect of five accounts.
“When the bank officials brought the ATM cards for the said accounts of which she is sole signatory, she discovered to her surprise that only one of these accounts bore her personal name while four were in the names of companies not known to her.
“She immediately complained about this anomaly to Hon. Dudafa and the bank officials, Demola Doledeoku and Dipo Oshodi, came back to the Villa with forms to change and convert the said accounts to the personal name of Mrs Jonathan.
“This was her firm request which the bank officials promised to effect immediately and she duly completed account conversion forms and signed the mandate forms as a the sole signatory, but as it would appear, the said bank officials did not change the Account names despite her request.
“It was in 2014 or thereabout that she was given the ATM cards for all the five accounts, with the bank officials promising to exchange the cards for the four reflecting her correct names. This again, the bank officials failed to do despite her repeated request.”
The former First Lady, fondly known as Madam P, denied opening the accounts in the names of cooks, drivers and artisans.
The statement said: “That Mrs. Patience Jonathan opened accounts in the names of cooks, drivers and artisans. This is perhaps the biggest falsehood to the knowledge of EFCC.
“The purpose for these tales by moonlight is to malign our client in the eyes of the misinformed and unsuspecting members of the Nigerian public and beyond and give a semblance of a picture of a hardworking agency bent on fighting corruption and indeed winning the war.
“It is unfortunate that the EFCC, which belongs to all Nigerians, will rather than conduct a painstaking and thorough investigation of cases brought to it, will resort to a greater disposition and propensity to engage in media trials built on outright falsehood and give to innocent persons, including Mrs. Patience Jonathan, the toga of a “thief” or “corrupt” person even before any proper trial.”
She said the accounts were opened to facilitate her travel overseas, particularly for medical treatment, sundry purchase for herself and her late mother, Mrs. Charity Oba (Mama Sisi).
“It is important to highlight the following;
- Mrs Patience Jonathan is not a director, shareholder, promoter and/or participant in any of the aforementioned four companies.
- Mrs. Patience Jonathan is the sole signatory to all the said accounts. There is no driver, cook or artisan made to open or sign the said account with her.
- Mrs. Patience Jonathan has never received any monies from any unknown sources paid into her accounts.
- The said accounts as aforesaid were to facilitate her travel overseas, particularly for medical treatment, sundry purchase for herself and her late mother Mrs. Charity Oba (Mama Sisi).
- Mrs. Patience Jonathan has never been involved in any economic crime at all.
- These cards, all of them were being used solely by Mrs. Patience Jonathan until the four cards failed to function sometime on the 27th July 2016, which necessitated her contacting the said Skye Bank Plc to find out what the problem might be.
- It was then, for the first time the officials of Skye Bank Plc informed Mrs Patience Jonathan that EFCC placed a no debit order/ freezing instruction on the said accounts. This was in spite of the Bank informing EFCC that those four accounts belonged to Mrs. Patience Jonathan personally.
- It was at this stage that Mrs. Jonathan contacted her lawyers to protect her interest in her accounts with Skye Bank Plc with a Letter of Authority. The lawyers promptly contacted Skye Bank Plc.
“The officials of the bank wrote to the lawyers confirming the no debit status placed on the said accounts without any notification to Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
The ex-First Lady said the net balance in the five accounts was below one-third of the $31.7million allegedly credited to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The statement added: ”It is noteworthy to state that:
”The net balance in the said four accounts is below one third of the falsely quoted $31.7million dollars. We challenge EFCC to provide documents showing otherwise and linked to Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
”Hon. Dudafa and the bank managers named earlier have all in writing informed the EFCC that the said balances in the said accounts belong to Mrs. Patience Jonathan but the EFCC rather than act on those credible sources of information decided to orchestrate a mechanism to forcefully seize the monies belonging to her without any iota of evidence that the said sums were proceeds of “economic crime” at all.
She said she was yet to get a copy of the no debit/freezing order issued by the EFCC on the accounts.
The statement said: “Both EFCC and Skye Bank Plc have, despite repeated requests failed, neglected and/ or refused to avail the lawyers to Mrs. Patience Jonathan copy of the no debit/freezing order issued by the EFCC on the said accounts
“On 3rd August, 2016, the lawyers of Mrs. Jonathan approached the EFCC Zonal Office in Lagos and met with the head of STF investigation, Mr. Orji Chukwuma to protest on behalf of Mrs. Patience Jonathan who said who said he would get back to the lawyers but never did until date.
“The Lawyers were therefore constrained to petition the Chairman, EFCC and the EFCC Zonal Head, Lagos on this issue vide a letter dated 10th August, 2016.
”Rather than EFCC to respond to the valid and plausible complaints of the lawyers, they resorted to intimidating, torturing and forcing the Hon. Dudafa, Demola Bolodeoku and Dipo Oshodi amongst others to cajole them to make statements incriminating Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
“The EFCC also called the Skye Bank officials restraining them from communicating with the lawyers or giving them documents all in a bid to rope in Mrs. Patience Jonathan.”
The ex-First Lady gave the details of the circumstances which forced her to sue EFCC.
She said: “Finally, the EFCC resorted to taking fast and surreptitious steps to get the Federal High Court where the criminal case Charge no: FHC/337C/16 is pending to get a final order to confiscate the funds in the said accounts without any notification to Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
“The attempt has failed three times that the case came up with the EFCC clearly unable to prove its case or open same.
”It was in the above circumstances and left with no other option, and to protect her legal rights under the Constitution that Mrs. Patience Jonathan was constrained to file a suit in the Federal High Court.
“It was the failure of the EFCC to obtain the forfeiture order on the last date at the Federal High Court sitting which was on the 8th august, 2016 that the heavens were let loose, leading to EFCC orchestrating the aforementioned false and malicious publications against the person of Mrs. Patience Jonathan, unleashing so much vendetta; vindictiveness and carefully planned rehearsed act of witch-hunt against her.”
Mrs. Patience Jonathan likened her investigation by the EFCC to Nuremberg trial
”It remains to wonder aloud the following pertinent questions:
- Is every wife of a successful politician being investigated for her lifestyle in respect of funds in her private accounts?
- Is there a complaint and if so from who as to the funds in the accounts which Skye Bank has confirmed solely belongs to Mrs. Patience Jonathan?
- Why is EFCC hell bent on intimidating and molesting witnesses including bank officials, to rope in Mrs. Patience Jonathan in this criminal matter that has nothing to do with her?
- Is EFCC now involved in investigation that is similar to that at the Nuremberg trial where everyone arrested by them is presumed guilty until the person proves the contrary?
- Can EFCC who by its actions have turned prosecutorial against Mrs. Patience Jonathan be trusted to still give her fair hearing?
“In the light of the foregoing, it is important to emphasise that EFCC needs to desist from media trial of innocent citizens before trial.
“We commend EFCC to adhere to this immutable advice by Hon. Leo Ogor, the distinguished Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.
“ We are fortified in this view by the recent statement of the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, that in the pursuit of the anti-corruption war, the rule of law must be followed and respect for human rights to be adhered to, for it is a truism that no man should be condemned unheard.
”We are making this statement to put the facts of this matter in proper perspective and Her Excellency Mrs. Patience Ibifaka Jonathan will not make any further statements on this issue as a law abiding citizen since the issues have been turned over to the courts for adjudication, and the matter is subjudice.”