Thursday, September 15, 2016 11:35 pm
Nigeria’s former First Lady, Mrs Patience has accused Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of engaging in fraudulent dealings with the hiring of four persons who pleaded guilty to money laundering charges on behalf of the four companies linked to her on Thursday.
Mrs. Jonathan said the four persons are unknown to her and were not authorized by her companies to prove guilty in a statement issued on her behalf her media aide, Chima Osuji.
According to her, the presentation of the four persons was a ploy by EFCC to confiscate the funds which she said belonged to her.
The former First Lady also accused EFCC of failure to comply with Section 477 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, by not presenting to the court on Thursday any letter to show that the four persons were authorised by the companies to represent them.
“This is a clear evidence of the desperation of the prosecution to pull down the former First Lady and confiscate her hard-earned money.
“It is an irony that it was the former First Lady who went to court for the repatriation of her confiscated money when she realised that the EFCC and its co-travellers were playing politics with this issue after she had come out publicly to say that the said money belongs to her and that she has all evidence to prove the sources of her money. Up till this very moment, the EFCC has refused to interrogate or invite her for questioning.
“The biggest twist in court on Thursday was that the fourth to seventh defendants pleaded guilty to all the 15 counts. It is clear that these unknown faces were agents of the EFCC, who have been stage-managed and tutored to come to court to complicate the case as a strategy to confiscate her money,” the ex-President’s wife’s aide, Osuji, said.
The four companies named in the alleged N15. 591, 700, million USD, which Mrs Jonathan, said belonged to her, had on Thursday pleaded guilty to the money laundering charges filed against them by the EFCC on Thursday .
The four companies, are 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 four companies, through their purported directors namely: Agbo Micheal, Friday Davis, and Kola Fredrick, pleaded guilty to the 15 counts amended charge of fraud, conspiracy and Money Laundering.
But the three purported directors of the companies, when first arraigned before Justice AbdulAziz Anka led-court, denied having any link with the companies.
They had told the court that they did not know when their passport photographs , and signatures where used to registered the companies.
Lawyer to Waripamo-owei Dudafa, one of the accused persons charged alongside the four companies, Mr Gboyega Oyewole had objected to the guilty pleas of the companies, on the ground that there was no any letter from the companies indicating the purported directors as their directors.
In the alleged fraud, three other persons were arraigned alongside the four companies. They are: Waripamo-owei Dudafa, a Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Azubike Briggs, and a Senior staff of Skye Bank Plc, Adedamola Bolodeoku.
EFCC in a second amended criminal charge marked FHC/337C/16, alleged that the three accused persons alongside the four companies, between November 13, 2013 and March 31, 2015, conspired with one Sombre Omeibi, who is now at large, to retain the sum of $15. 591, 700, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, and thereby committed Offences bordering on money laundering, and stealing.
The Anti-graft agency also alleged that the said money was wired through account numbers: 2110002207; 2110002245; 2110002238; 0122493290; 2110002252; domiciled in Skye Bank Plc. as the accused persons were alleged to have forged Skye bank mandate card which were purportedly signed by the directors of the companies, namely; Friday Davis, kola Fredrick, Agbo Baro, Taiwo Ebenezer and China John.
The offences, according to the anti graft agency are contrary to sections 18(a) and 15(d), and punishable under section s15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
But a new twist was introduced into the case when Mrs Jonathan claimed the $15.5 million belonged to her and slammed a $200million suit on EFCC for freezing the four accounts where the funds were domiciled.
Joined in the ensuing legal warfare are Skye Bank plc, the former special assistant to the President, Waripama-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, Pluto Property and Investment company limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company limited, Transocean Property and investment company limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.
In an affidavit in support of the originating summon sworn to by a legal practitioner, Sammie Somiari, and filed before the court by a Port Harcourt based lawyer, Granville Abibo SAN, the deponent averred that Patience Ibifaka Jonathan, on 22nd of March, 2010, with the assistance of officials of Skye bank, Mr. Demola Bolodeoku and Dipo Oshodi opened five different accounts with the bank, the account opening and mandate forms were duly completed and signed by her.
Subsequently, Mrs. Jonathan said she discovered that apart from one of the accounts that bore her name, the other four accounts were opened in the name of four companies which are companies belonging to Waparimo-Owei Dudafa.
She said when she also observed that the ATM cards of the said accounts were issued in names of different companies, she complained to Dudafa who promised to effect the necessary changes in the name of the said accounts, consequently, Mr. Dipo Oshodi promised to effect the necessary changes.
Mr. Somiari averred further that Patience Jonathan is not a director, shareholder or participant in these companies and that the fund in the said accounts are solely owned and operated by her.
However, the Skye bank official, Dipo Oshodi did not effect the instructions of the plaintiff to change the name of the said accounts to her name, despite repeated request made by her.
Notwithstanding the refusal of the bank to effect the necessary change, she said has been using the said ATM cards without any interference.
However, the former First Lady said sometimes in July 2016, she discovered that the ATM cards were not functioning, she was surprised at the development and immediately got in touch with Dipo Oshodi her account officer with SKYE bank who asked her to direct her enquiries to the bank.
Mrs. Jonathan said the bank informed her that a no debit/freezing order have been placed on the accounts. On enquiry, the bank informed her that the accounts were frozen on the directive of EFCC as a result of ongoing investigation in relation to Waparima Dudafa.
She contended that she was never arrested or invited by EFCC prior to the no debit place on the accounts despite several appeal to the bank, the bank has failed and refused to release the said accounts.
The freezing of her funds by Skye bank merely on the directive of EFCC without an order of the court is unlawful and consequently, Mrs Jonathan demanded for $200 million as damages while also urging the court not only to declare that the no debit /freezing order is unlawful but to issue an order discharging the no debit order.
She also urged the court to restrain the EFCC and it’s agent from further or subsequently placing a no debit /freezing order on the said accounts.
No date has been fixed for hearing.