EFCC: Patience Jonathan’s $15.5m is a proceeds of crime

Patience Jonathan

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss a suit by former First Lady Mrs. Patience Jonathan.

In its counter-affidavit, the commission said the $15.5 million, which Mrs Jonathan was claiming, is “a proceed of crime”.

Mrs. Jonathan, in the civil suit before Justice Mohammed Idris, claimed that EFCC froze four of her accounts with Skye Bank in the name of four companies.

The accounts, she said, had $15,591,700 (about N5 billion) belonging to her.

But the companies, on September 15, pleaded guilty, and were convicted for laundering the money when they were arraigned before Justice Babs Kuewumi.

The judge, however, refused to order the forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government untill the conclusion of others’ trial.

The companies are: Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Friday Davis), Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Agbor Baro), Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Dioghowori Frederick) and Avalon Global Property Development Ltd (represented by Taiwo Ebenezer).

EFCC arraigned them with a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa; a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku.

Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku pleaded not guilty to the 17-count charge.

Mrs. Jonathan, in the suit before Justice Idris, is seeking an order to de-freeze the accounts and release her money.

Yesterday, her lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe, told Justice Idris that his client amended her processes.

He said he also filed a motion to regularise them, which the court granted.

EFCC’s lawyer Oyedepo Rotimi said he would amend his response to the suit.

Justice Idris said: “Leave will be granted to the respondent (EFCC) to file any amended process.”

Rotimi accused the applicant of changing the companies’ address through which the suit was purportedly served on them. Mrs. Jonathan joined the companies in her suit.

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The EFCC lawyer said: “We are of the opinion that if you want to change the address of a party, it should not be the adversary who will change the address of another party.

“What we saw was the applicant was changing the address of other defendants and I don’t think that is tidy.”

Women again stormed the court yesterday in solidarity with Mrs Jonathan. Some struggled to enter the packed courtroom, which became congested.

Justice Kuewumi, on November 2, refused an order to forfeit $15.5 million after convicting the companies in whose accounts the money was domiciled.

The judge said he would hand down a sentence after the trial of others who pleaded not guilty to the charge.

While reviewing the facts, Rotimi said the money was stolen from the State House, Abuja.

He said: “EFCC received an intelligence report showing vividly that the fourth to seventh defendants retained proceeds of crime.

“Our investigations showed that Festus Iyoha admitted receiving the fund from the first defendant (Dudafa). Iyoha is a domestic staff at the State House. He admitted that funds credited into the accounts were given to him from the State House.”

Rotimi said Iyoha paid $3,096,377.38 into Pluto’s account; $3,410,534.71 into Seagate’s account, $3,765,711.87 into Trans Oceans’ account, and $250,000 into Avalon Global’s account.

Mrs Jonathan claimed she operated the accounts although they were opened in the companies’ names by Dudafa contrary to her instructions.

She said the bank promised to rectify the issue by changing the names to hers’, but never did.

Justice Idris adjourned till January 18 for hearing.

Trial in case before Justice Kuewumi will continue on December 14.

Yesterday, a group of ankara-wearing women were in court to show solidarity for Mrs Jonathan.

The Nation

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