Former First Lady, Patience Jonathan has filed a N200m fundamental rights enforcement suit against Skye Bank Plc, following the freezing of four bank accounts, which she claims the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has used to inconvenience and embarrass her.
The four accounts, lodged with Skye Bank Plc, are in the name of four companies which is said to have a balance of $31.4m
The four companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Co. Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Development Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.
In an affidavit filed before the court and deposed to by one Sammie Somiari, a legal practitioner on behalf of Patience Jonathan, the deponents claims that the EFCC placed a No Debit Order on the four accounts in July in the course of probing one Waripamo Dudafa, a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
After its investigations, the EFCC went ahead to file an amended 17-count against Dudafa and seven others, including the four companies, with the defendants being accused of conspiring to conceal the monies which the EFCC claimed they ought to have known formed parts of the proceeds of an unlawful act.
In the affidavit however, Sammie Somiari claims that it was Dudafa who helped Mrs Patience Jonathan to open the four bank accounts which the EFCC froze.
According to him, Dudafa had on March 22, 2010 brought two Skye Bank officers, Demola Bolodeoku and Dipo Oshodi, to meet the former first lady at home to open five accounts.
He, however, claimed that after the five accounts were opened, Mrs Patience Jonathan later discovered that Dudafa opened only one of the accounts in her name while the other four were opened in the names of companies belonging to Dudafa.
Somiari added “that Mrs Jonathan complained about this to Honourable Dudafa, who at her prompting and instance promised to effect the change of the said accounts to the applicant’s name; and to effect this change, Honourable Dudafa brought the said bank manager, Mr. Dipo Oshodi, who claimed to have effected the changes. This was about April 2014.
“The bank official, Mr. Dipo Oshodi, as it would appear did not effect or reflect the instruction of the applicant to change the said accounts to her name(s) despite repeated requests.
The deponent also claims that Mrs Patience Jonathan who is said to be away for an urgent medical treatment abroad, is the sole signatory to the accounts as the money belongs to her.
The affidavit also said that the ATM credit cards bearing the said companies’ names were brought to Mrs Jonathan by the bank manager who promised to replace them once the cards bearing the changed names were available, but he never did.
“However, since 2010 up until 2014 and thereafter, Mrs Jonathan had been using the cards on the said accounts and operating the said accounts without let or hindrance. Even in May, June and July 2016, the former First Lady traveled overseas for medical treatment and was using the said credit cards abroad up until July 7, 2016 or thereabouts when the cards stopped functioning.”
In her fundamental rights action before the court, the wife of the former President is asking the court to compel the EFCC to immediately vacate the “No Debit Order” placed on her accounts.
She also says the action of the EFCC without a court order or prior notice to her is illegal, overbearing and constitutes a breach of her fundamental rights as enshrined in Section 33, 34, 35 & 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
She wants the court to order Skye Bank to pay her damages in the sum of N200m for what she termed a violation of her right to own personal property under Section 44 of the Constitution.
The EFCC on its part is set to arraign the former Presdent’s aide, Dudafa and his alleged accomplices for money laundering before a Federal High Court in Lagos.