Eniola Akinkuotu, Success Nwogu and Ramon Oladimeji
Dame Patience Jonathan, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, said she was using her $15m, which was frozen in four companies’ accounts, to settle medical bills while she was out of the country.
She, therefore, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Skye Bank to lift the restriction on the accounts.
Patience said this in a letter with reference number GA/Abibo/00226/2016, written by her lawyers, Granville Abibo (SAN) and Co, which was addressed to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
The PUNCH had reported that the four accounts belonged to the following companies: Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.
A houseboy, a driver and other domestic workers of a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to Jonathan, Waripamowei Dudafa, were named as directors, but Patience’s $15m was lodged in the accounts and she was given a platinum card and exclusive access to the accounts.
The letter read in part, “It is noteworthy to emphasise that the said accounts, which were in US dollar denomination, were card-based accounts and our client is the sole signatory to these accounts.
“However, our client has been operating the said accounts using the cards for her medical bill payments and purchases for her private purposes without any let or hindrance.
“Our client was therefore surprised when the said cards stop functioning on July 7, 2016, or thereabout. Our client immediately, thereupon, contacted Skye Bank Plc through our solicitors.
‘‘It was only then that the bank officials informed our client that the said accounts were placed on a ‘No Debit Order’ following investigations and instruction from your commission and this is without notice to our client by either the bank or the commission.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that we urge you to use your good offices to vacate the ‘No Debit/Freezing Order’ placed on the said accounts.”
Patience, who described herself as a law-abiding citizen, said despite all the explanations she offered to the Lagos Zonal Office of the EFCC, the detectives in charge refused to heed her request.
She, therefore, urged Magu to intervene immediately.
She added, “Despite the foregoing, our client, who is a law-abiding citizen, has watched with surprise how efforts are being made surreptitiously to indirectly harass or harangue her and short-change her of her personal funds in breach of her fundamental human rights.
“We urge you sir, to kindly intervene to stop the untoward and wrongful actions of your officials to embarrass, inconvenience and short-change our client.”
However, a detective in the EFCC said, “We got a relevant court order to freeze those accounts and we have evidence which we will present in court on Friday.
“We did not know that the accounts belonged to Patience Jonathan at the time we froze them. The accounts do not bear her name neither do they carry her BVN (Bank Verification Number). So, how can she accuse us of harassment?
“She has a separate account in Skye Bank with the title ‘Patience Jonathan’, which has a balance of $5m. If she claims she needs money for medical treatment, then the $5m should be alright.”
In a thanksgiving service held at the State House chapel in Abuja on February 18, 2013, Patience had said she underwent seven surgical operations within one month in Germany, adding that the doctors had given up hope on her survival.
She had stated, “I remember when Chief Obasanjo was the President of the country, I was close to his late wife, Stella. We worshiped together in this chapel. It was a painful moment for me that time when she (Stella) died and her corpse was brought here.
“That was how my corpse would have been brought here.
‘‘It was not an easy experience for me. I actually died, I passed out for more than a week. My intestine and tummy were opened.
“I am not Lazarus but my experience was similar to his. My doctors said all hope was lost.’’
FG not persecuting Jonathan, Patience –Mohammed
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the Federal Government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, is not persecuting Jonathan and his wife, Patience.
Speaking in an interview with journalists in Oro, Kwara State, on Tuesday, Mohammed said it would be wrong to submit that the Federal Government was probing Jonathan or Patience.
He said, “If you look at the history of Mrs. Patience Jonathan’s issue, I think she was the one that came out to claim that the money found in the accounts of one of the aides to the former President, her husband, belonged to her.
“It was not the EFCC that claimed so. She claimed that the money that the guy was being prosecuted for belonged to her. It was only then they later found an extra $5m in another account.
“It is not as if anybody has gone out to probe Mrs. Jonathan directly or indirectly. Rather Mrs. Jonathan was the one that said ‘that money for which you are accusing Mr. X actually belongs to me. So, you cannot start talking of prosecution or persecution.”
The minister said the Federal Government was concerned about the current national economic recession and had initiated measures to address it.
He stated that the current campaign of the Federal Government, ‘‘Change begins with me,’’ was not only for the people but also for the leaders.
Mohammed also said it was incorrect to accuse Buhari’s government of being partisan, selective and vindictive in its anti-corruption war.
He said Buhari would also not spare any APC member accused or guilty of corruption.
He said, “People have always said that no APC politician had been investigated. The question is ‘those who are those being prosecuted today, for what reasons are they being prosecuted?
“It is wrong to say that the government is only investigating and prosecuting PDP members. We have not even started investigating the oil and gas industry. It is not about going out to investigate PDP. No!
‘‘We lost about 15,000 people. Nobody can, in honesty, accuse the FG of being one sided.’’
Patience must explain her source of wealth, says CACOL
Also, a civil society organisation, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, has said Patience must explain how she came about the funds with which she reportedly built a N10bn hotel in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
The hotel, which is known as Aridolf Resort Wellness and Spa, Yenagoa, was inaugurated by Patience in April 2015, barely a month before the end of her husband’s tenure.
But CACOL, which recalled in a statement on Tuesday that Patience was only a Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State at a time, said the ex-President’s wife must be made to explain the source of her wealth.
The statement by the group’s acting Media Officer, Abiodun Rabiu, quoted the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, as saying the EFCC needed no further petition to invite Patience for questioning.
CACOL asked, “How did she (Patience) get the money and even the ones stacked in her accounts? That is what we, Nigerians, want to know. As far as we can understand, she was just a civil servant. So, as a civil servant, how did she manage to acquire such a luxurious property that is worth that amount, because she would have earned less than 10 per cent of the amount even if she had been a Director or Permanent Secretary in the Bayelsa State Civil Service all of the entire years she has spent on earth?”