“Why is it that whenever I write a story about the police arresting and parading an armed robber in Ikorodu, people hail the police and they never say, “Police should leave these armed robbers and go after the ones in Mushin or Oshodi” but the moment I write a story about Patience Jonathan claiming ownership to a frozen $15m account, her supporters will say, “EFCC is on a witch-hunt. They should leave her and face Amaechi and Tinubu”. Why is it that once it comes to politics, tribe or religion, people just don’t think straight?” – Eniola Akinkuotu 12/9/2016, FACEBOOK

Eniola Akinkuotu is a young dynamic Nigerian who is a journalist at Punch Newspaper. Like Eniola, very many of us are in consternation at the cancerous hiccups these issues have driven us to as a nation.

There has been various reports of recent linking former First Lady Mrs. Patience Jonathan to an alleged $31.4million fraud case before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

This report became thick when Mrs. Patience Jonathan claimed the money belongs to her. The former first lady in a suit filed against the anti graft agency asked the court to make a declaration that the fund standing to the credit of four of the companies and an account in her own name in Skye Bank belonged to her.

She also asked the court to declare that the action of the respondents in placing a No Debit/Freezing Order on the said accounts without any order of a competent court of law or prior notice to her, to be in breach of her fundamental rights as contained in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The EFCC is said to have been investigating Dudafa when they stumbled on four companies’ domiciliary accounts opened at Skye Bank with a balance of about $15m. On further investigation, they were able to identify the directors of the companies who are domestic servants of Dudafa.

The four companies’ accounts have since been frozen by the EFCC while there is another account in Skye Bank which bears Patience Jonathan’s name, has $5m.

As part of investigations into a money laundering case against a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Jonathan, Waripamowei Dudafa, the EFCC had traced four company accounts to him with a balance of $15m.

The EFCC subsequently charged Dudafa and the four companies with money laundering.

The four companies charged and whose accounts have since been frozen, are 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.

The Commission had taken former presidential aide, Amajuoyi Azubike Briggs, former Skye Bank official, Damola Bolodeoku, Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited to court in an alleged $31.4 million fraud involving the companies without addresses.

Others also charged include Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.

Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan have also claimed 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 that she was using the money which was frozen in four companies’ accounts, to settle medical bills while she was out of the country.

In the light of the foregoing, it is clear that the EFCC is yet to charge Mrs. Jonathan to Court. It is still carrying out its investigation.

The duplication of the above facts has become pertinent in order to appreciate the case at hand. I am writing this article in reaction to proliferating provocative comments and publications that has inundated the media in this few days, stemming out mostly from bias, hindsight, parochial analysis, sheer hate for the present administration or ignorance, with regards to the $20million saga currently rocking the former First Lady. Some sympathizers of Mrs. Patience Jonathan are even asking the anti graft agency to leave the former First Lady alone and look for other meaningful activities to embark on.

It is apposite to state that the EFCC is not after Mrs. Jonathan. In fact, it was Mrs. Jonathan who took the EFCC to Court. She was the one that came out to claim that the money found in the accounts of her husband former aide belong to her. It was not the EFCC that claimed so. Thus, it is her responsibly to prove how she came about the money. There is nothing stopping the anti graft agency from investigating any public officer who lives beyond his or her means. It can be recalled that she was a one time permanent secretary in the twilight of the Seriake Dickson administration and until she proves how she came about such wealth, she is not above suspicion.

Though, she claimed the account was rendered redundant by the agency without valid court orders and prior notice to her, her claim is highly risible. Though countered that they have valid court orders before freezing the accounts, the agency could not have reasonably foreseen that the aforementioned account belonged to her, given the manner in which it was opened. The account name does not bear her name, neither does it carry her signature. It was just a conduit pipe used in syphoning hard currency.

Madam Patience never claimed ownership to the said account even while Dudafa was being probed by the men of the anti graft agency, not until a No Debit/Freezing Order was placed on the account.

By freezing the account suspected to belong to Dudafa who is under criminal investigation, the EFCC has only done what it is mandated to do. It has acted in line with the provision of section 34 of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission Act. What harm could freezing an account worth $15million suspected to be public funds possibly do to an individual who has $5million in another account? It was her claim that led the anti graft agency to trace another $5million in her account.

Is EFCC saying a former Deputy Governor’s wife, Acting Governor’s wife, Vice President’s wife, Acting President’s wife and then a First Lady cannot come about the said money? No! The anti graft agency is only saying she should give account of how she came about the money. Why is the money not deposited in her own account? Why the accounts of the domestic servants of Dudafa? These are the questions that should be tormenting well meaning Nigerians.

Some people are audaciously asking whether Patience is the only corrupt Nigerian. Some are saying the exercise of the EFCC to ‘investigate’ the erstwhile First Lady is a witch-hunt. That is nonsense and brazen display of how bankrupt they are morally and intellectually. These are the same people who will be quick to lynch petty thieves but are sympathetic when it comes to those who aggrandized billions of public funds for selfish reasons.

How we condone stealing allegedly perpetuated by those in high places still amazes me. Was it not in this country four (4) students suspected to be thieves were lynched by an angry mob in ALUU? Why are we so cowed and asinine when the thieving involves politicians and huge sums?

One Facbooker even commented on one of my post “Nigeria is a very big joke, if she is involved in any criminal activity justice demands that she explain that in court. Let EFCC invite her for questioning and subsequent arraignment, don’t look very helpless like an insane old man who is only interested in his ijaw enemies.
When will Pa Buhari going to probe the stealing of Nigeria’s oil blocks in the Niger Delta by the 97%ers?”

I wish to unapologetically state that until a formal petition is addressed to the appropriate authorities against the culprits of the alleged oil block stealing, no probe will commence. Such must not in anyway affect the culpability or otherwise of Patience Jonathan’s perceived corruption. When are we going to stop defending one wrong with another wrong?

Those who cry wolf for Patience because of their geographical and dialectical identification should point the legacies she left behind in the South South region and Bayelsa state in particular. How do people hate Lawrence Anini who stole and shower the poor market women of old Bendel state part of the booty in an escape scheme, but love public officials who stole public funds and deprive the poor of good life in society.

As a permanent secretary in Bayelsa state Government, could Mrs. Jonathan have earned such whopping amount legitimately? Was she into a business that could have fetched her that amount? She has to prove that it’s not ill-gotten wealth.

If this administration wants the desired change it seeks from Nigerians, this case must be used as a shopworn if we are to still think this Government is serious after all.

Now that a Leader has just been linked with a case of corruption, she should be invited for questioning and if her answers are unsatisfactory, charged to court.

If it is witch-hunt, nothing stops subsequent administration from witch-hunting its opposition till all our looted funds are recovered.

The anti graft agency will not be commit any wrong known to law if it invites the former First Lady for investigation. Investigation does not mean that one is guilty afterall.

Aluzu Ebikebuna Augustine is a Human Rights Activist and can be reached on ebisko19@gmail.com

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