Former first lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan has slammed a $200 million suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
She is asking the court to mandate the anti-graft agency to pay her the sum as damages for freezing her accounts containing $15,000, an action she claimed infringed on her rights.
She is also seeking an order of court, directing the unfreezing of her account and another order restraining the EFCC from taking further steps in relation to the said account pending the determination of the suit.
Justice Babs Kuewumi fixed December 7 for hearing.
The EFCC had on September 22 ordered the freezing of some bank accounts belonging to her.
The Commission said the action was due to the ongoing investigation into the alleged money laundering charge preferred against her.
When the matter came up for mention, yesterday, women numbering over 100, invaded the premises of the Federal High Court, Lagos, to protest the freezing order placed on the bank accounts of the ex-first lady.
Joined in the suit are Skye Bank, a former Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripama-Owei Dudafa, Pluto Property and Investment company Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd, Transocean Property and Investment Company Ltd and Globus Integrated Service Ltd.
When the case was called, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, announced appearance for the EFCC, while Mr Granville Abibo appeared for Jonathan.
Oyedepo informed the judge that the case was coming up for the first time, adding that some of the respondents had yet to be served with the court’s processes.
He said the case was not yet “ripe for hearing”, having been served with the processes on October 19. He asked for time to enable him file a response.
His submission was, however, not contested by counsel to the plaintiff.
Immediately, the court rose, the women carrying placards swooned toward a vehicle belonging to the EFCC, chanting solidarity songs in Ijaw and English languages.
Some of the inscriptions read: “Ijaw people are in solidarity with Jonathan”, “Unfreeze ex-President Jonathan’s wife’s account”, “We urge EFCC to abide by the rule of law”, “Women must be heard.”
In an affidavit in support deposed to by Mr Sammie Somiari, a lawyer, he averred that on March 22, 2010, Mr.s Jonathan had opened five different accounts with Skye Bank with the assistance of one Damola Bolodeoku and Dipo Oshodi.
According to him, Jonathan who duly completed and signed the mandate forms later discovered that apart from one of the accounts that bore her name, the other four accounts were opened in the name of four companies belonging to Dudafa.
He said she also observed that the ATM cards of the said accounts were issued in the names of the companies, adding that she complained to Dudafa, who promised to effect the necessary changes.
He said Dipo Oshodi also promised to effect the necessary changes.
Somiari averred that Jonathan was not a director, shareholder or participant in the companies and the funds in the said accounts were solely owned and operated by her.
“Dudafa does not own any part of the funds in the said accounts.”
According to the deponent, the Skye Bank official, (Oshodi), did not effect the instructions of the plaintiff to change the name of the said accounts to her name, despite repeated request.
He stated notwithstanding the refusal of the bank to effect the necessary changes, Jonaathan had been using the said ATM cards without any interference.
The deponent averred that sometime in July, Jonathan discovered that the ATM cards were not functioning, and immediately contacted the bank, who informed her that a “No debit/freezing order” had been placed on the accounts.
“On further enquiry, the bank informed her that the accounts were frozen on the directive of EFCC as a result of ongoing investigation in relation to Dudafa.”
Jonathan, therefore, contended that she was never arrested or invited by the EFCC prior to the freezing order placed on the accounts.
She further contends that the freezing order on her funds on the directive of EFCC without an order of the court is unlawful and illegal.