EFCC Explains Why It Won’t Release Patience Jonathan’s Money

Patience Jonathan wants the EFCC to release 'her' trapped $31m
Patience Jonathan wants the EFCC to release ‘her’ trapped $31m

By Samuel Malik

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has said it will not vacate the no debit order it placed on the bank accounts of four companies, which former first lady, Patience Jonathan, allegedly used to launder money.

Jonathan claims the money belongs to her.

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said the order, which is a block placed on a bank account to prevent any transaction that requires money leaving the account, is aimed at protecting the money pending the conclusion of investigations into the circumstances that led to the money being paid into the account.

Uwujaren spoke this morning on a radio programme, Political Platform, on Ray Power. He said the anti-graft agency was alerted to the presence of the funds in the accounts while investigating some transactions carried out by the former aide to former president, Goodluck Jonathan, on domestic matters, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa.

“In the course of investigating that matter, it came to light that he registered some companies, four companies, and in the process of looking at those companies, it emerged that documents that were used to register them were forged and the names of people on the boards of the companies, we also tracked them and those people whose names appeared denied knowledge that their names were used to even float the companies and open accounts for the companies,” Uwujaren said.

Dudafa is accused of registering four companies with dodgy papers
Dudafa is accused of registering four companies with dodgy papers

Dudafa allegedly connived with some officials from Skye Bank to circumvent banking regulations by opening accounts for the companies without biometric registration identification numbers, while it also emerged that the names of people used to open the accounts were different from those operating them.

“So, this raised suspicion and the Commission took that precautionary step to place a no debit order on those accounts to protect the money in the accounts while we are still carrying out our investigation because if we leave the accounts open and somebody gets wind of the investigation (the money may disappear before you conclude your investigation),” the EFCC spokesman said.

He expressed shock that the former first lady rushed to court claiming ownership of the money, even though none of the documents used in opening the accounts or registering the companies had her identity, saying, “If she claims to be the owner of the money, the logical question Nigerians should ask is, ‘why would you now use forged names and forged documents to open accounts for companies and then lodge your own personal funds into those accounts?’”

Asked why the EFCC is yet to invite the former president’s wife, Uwujaren said the Commission is focused on doing a thorough investigation. He, however, dismissed her claims that the EFCC is using mercenaries to discredit her in court, saying it was a matter of time before she is called to explain her connection with the money.

“why would you now use forged names and forged documents to open accounts for companies and then lodge your own personal funds into those accounts?

According to Uwujaren: “People do say the EFCC is doing hasty investigation (but) now that we are taking our time to do thorough investigations before confronting the prime suspect, she has not allowed us to do that, rather she went to court to claim money that belongs to companies that there is no evidence in the documentation of these companies that she is the face of those companies. So, these are some of the issues and to say that EFCC went to court to use mercenaries, I think that is laughable.






     

     

    “That will come (inviting the former first lady to defend herself) as the investigations progress but she has filed an action in court and that has diverted our attention to look at the issue she has raised in court and the Commission has filed an affidavit in respect of that matter. But the truth of the matter is that she jumped the gun by claiming the money when we have not even approached her with the evidence that we have.”

    EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, ruffled some feather in the fight against corruption
    EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, has ruffled some feathers in the fight against corruption

    While the companies and their accounts’ documents do not identify Patience Jonathan, the EFCC said it has evidence that she is the one running the accounts.

    There is possibility, however, that the money will be released to the former first lady, the EFCC said, but that will be at the end of the investigation and provided no case is established against her.

    “Nobody has taken any money away from Patience Jonathan. We are simply doing our investigation (and) if Jonathan is not happy with proceedings of court, her lawyers can approach the court to get relief,” Uwujaren said.

     

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