Court orders EFCC to unfreeze Patience Jonathan’s $5.9m account

Patience Jonathan

As Three INEC officials are arraigned, over N23bn Diezani bribe

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to unfreeze the account of  former first lady Patience Goodluck Jonathan.

The account contains $5.9 million.

March 6 Recall that a Federal high court sitting in Lagos had in December last year ordered the freezing of multiple accounts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, suspected to be owned by Dame Patience Jonathan and also suspected to be proceeds of crime.

One of the accounts in the former First Lady’s name contained specifically the sum of $5,316.66.

The court while giving reasons as to why it ordered the accounts frozen said it was on the ground that the money is suspected to be proceeds of crime.

The order of the court was sequel to a further and better affidavit in support of Ex-parte originating summons sworn to by Abdullahi Tukur, an investigating officer of EFCC and filed before the court by EFCC prosecutor Rotimi Oyedepo Iseoluwa.

In the meantime, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Wednesday, arraigned three officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission for allegedly taking bribes to compromise the 2015 general elections.

The accused persons, Christian Nwosu, Yisa Adedoyin and Tijani Bashir were said to have, on March 27, 2015, taken bribes from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

They were on Wednesday arraigned on seven counts before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

Charged along with them was Diezani, who was said to be at large.

The charges pressed against the defendants by the EFCC bordered on conspiracy, acceptance of gratification and money laundering.

The EFCC, in the first charge, alleged that Nwosu, Adedoyin and Bashir, in connivance with Diezani, took possession of N264.88m, which the anti-graft agency said they “ought to have reasonably known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: gratification.”

The defendants were said to have, on March 27, 2015, made a cash payment of N234.88m without going through any financial institution.

Adedoyin was said to have received N70.05m cash from Bashir on March 27, 2015.

Bashir was said to have, on the same day, taken possession of N64.88m while Nwosu was said to have received and used N30m.

The prosecution said the accused persons acted contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and were liable to be punished under sections 15(3) and 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

When the charges were read to defendants before Justice Mohammed Idris, the first defendant, Nwosu, admitted receiving a cash of N30m as alleged by the EFCC.

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the judge that Nwosu had elected to enter into plea bargain with the anti-graft agency.

Oyedepo added that already, Nwosu had returned N5m while he had also surrendered the title document of a landed property he purchased for N25m in Delta State.

Reviewing the facts of Nwosu’s case, Oyedepo informed the court that the EFCC acted on an intelligence report that Diezani had stashed $115m (N23bn) in a bank with an oral instruction to the bank that the money should be changed to naira while part of it should be given to certain INEC officials in the run-up to the 2015 general elections.

The prosecutor said N30m out of the money was traced to Nwosu, who kept it in a Hilux van in Ilorin.

Oyedepo urged the judge to convict Nwosu as charged in view of his plea and the evidence adduced.

Consequently, Justice Idris held, “In line with the plea of the defendant coupled with the facts and the exhibits tendered by the prosecutor, the defendant is hereby convicted as charged.”

Vanguard with additional report from Punch