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Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Patience Jonathan: EFCC exposes new findings in $8.4m, N7.4bn forfeiture case

Patience Jonathan: EFCC exposes new findings in $8.4m, N7.4bn forfeiture case

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday revealed that Patience Jonathan, wife of former President, Goodluck Jonathan, allegedly continued to collect her N700,000 monthly salary seven months after she left the civil service.

EFCC stated this at the Federal High Court in Lagos during hearing of a forfeiture case on $8.4 million and N7.4 billion allegedly belonging to her.

It declared that the former First Lady retired from the Bayelsa State Civil Service as a Permanent Secretary on October 14, 2014, was paid her salary up till May 2015, when her husband left office.

Mrs. Jonathan, Globus Integrated Services Ltd, Finchley Top Homes Ltd., Am-Pm Global Network Ltd, Pagmat Oil and Gas Ltd, Magel Resort Ltd and Esther Oba are the respondents.

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Among the temporarily forfeited sums are N1.085billion and N226.3million found in Finchley’s Ecobank account and N39.4million found in its Diamond Bank account, as well as N55.9million found in Pagmat Oil and Gas’ Diamond Bank account, among others.

Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyers, including Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had argued that the funds included donations and legitimate earnings by the companies linked to her.

Yesterday, Mrs Jonathan’s lawyers called a former Head of Service of Bayelsa State, Mr. Fraser Ogboru, as its first witness.

In his testimony, Ogboru, who said he retired from Bayelsa State Civil Service on December 31, 2014, told the court that he knew Mrs. Jonathan when her husband was a Deputy Governor.

He claimed he was still in service when Mrs. Jonathan was appointed a permanent secretary.

During cross-examination by EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said: “The first respondent’s (Mrs Jonathan) effective date of retirement is 16th October, 2014. Would you be surprised to hear that the first respondent was still earning salaries till May 2015?”

Ogboru: “I would be surprised.”

Ogboru said a Permanent Secretary’s monthly salary was about N700,000, while the gratuity upon retirement was just over N20million.

Other witnesses, including a former Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Dr. Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, and the South West Zonal Coordinator of an NGO, Women for Change Initiative, Chief Mrs. Kate Onyechere, also testified.

In his testimony, Dudafa denied being used by the former First Lady to launder money.

He told Justice Olatoregun that all the funds in an account linked to a firm, Globus Integrated Services Ltd, were cash gifts given to the former First Lady during her husband’s tenure as President.

“I was not procured by the family of Dame Patience Jonathan to conceal proceeds of unlawful activities and by virtue of being the former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to the erstwhile president and the 1st respondent (Mrs. Jonathan), I was informed by the 1st respondent that the funds in the firm’s account are cash gifts that were given to her while she was the first lady”, Dudafa said.

The witness also denied that he was aware that a bag he received on behalf of Dr. Jonathan from one, Col. Adegbe, in the course of his duties contained $47 million which was allegedly removed from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the instruction of a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun adjourned further hearing in the matter to May 24, 2019.

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