Former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan appears to have more explanation to make to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) besides the $19 million just frozen in her accounts.
Mrs. Jonathan has just been linked with five choice properties including
a N5billion hotel in Abuja, The Nation gathered yesterday. The EFCC is
currently studying documents on how the Abuja hotel (names withheld) was
It has also dispatched a team of investigators to Yenagoa, Bayelsa State
and Port Harcourt, Rivers State for the purpose of establishing the
ownership of four properties in the two cities.
The anti-graft agency is likely to confiscate the five properties once it is able to confirm that they belong to Mrs. Jonathan.
One of the pieces of evidence the EFCC has in its possession in its
probe of the ex-First Lady is her cumulative pay and perks as a civil
servant in Bayelsa State where she rose to the post of Permanent
Sources said the pay details are far below the $31million which the ex-First Lady claimed as her legitimately earned money.
The EFCC is insisting that Mrs. Jonathan must account for how she came
about the cash wired into the five accounts to which she is a signatory
or forfeit it to the Federal Government. One of the sources familiar
with the probe said the money used in acquiring the properties under
investigation appears to be gratification to Mrs. Jonathan when her
husband was in power.
The source said: “Based on intelligence report, we have isolated five
properties allegedly identified with the ex-First Lady. These properties
include a N5billion hotel in Abuja and four others in Yenagoa and Port
“A special team has gone to verify all these assets in the affected
areas including the contractors engaged, the mode of payment to them,
relevant land registration documents, and associates used as fronts.
“In the next few days, we will start questioning all those involved in
the acquisition or building of the assets. We are lucky that this
investigation has a lot of e-transaction and computerization components.
There is no hiding place for anyone involved.
“If at the end of the day the five assets belong to the ex-First Lady,
we will approach the court to place all these assets under Interim
Assets Forfeiture in line with Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC
(Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court
Section 28 of the EFCC Act stipulates that: “Where a person is arrested
for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace
and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a
result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to
be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.”
Section 13 of the Federal High Court Act reads in part: “The Court may
grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in
all cases in which it appears to the Court to be just or convenient so
“Any such order may be made either unconditionally or on such terms and conditions as the Court thinks just.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “If our investigation reveals
that the assets are not owned by Mrs. Patience Jonathan, we will return
them to their legitimate owners.”
The Nation also gathered that the EFCC is not about to defreeze Mrs. Jonathan’s accounts under investigation.
“We have retrieved documents on the pay package and monetized perks of
Mrs. Patience Jonathan when she was a Permanent Secretary in the
government of Bayelsa State. Her total emoluments do not tally with the
funds remitted into the five accounts,” an EFCC source said.
“She owes us a duty to explain how she came about these funds. Our
investigation showed that the funds came from gratifications; it is left
to her to prove otherwise.
“The good thing is that the ex-First Lady was the one who sued EFCC
demanding the release of her $31million. She has a duty as a former
public officer to explain how she earned the funds. Did she declare
these funds in her Assets Declaration Form as a Permanent Secretary?
“We are happy that the case is in court and the onus is on her to prove
‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that she is the owner of the funds. If we had
initiated the action, some people by now will be accusing EFCC of
“But she went to court to exercise her rights under the law. The same
law demands that you must seek equity with clean hands. I think the
press should take more than a passing interest in what is going on in