$31.5m: Patience Jonathan challenges EFCC

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Patience Jonathan, wife of former President of Nigeria
Patience Jonathan, wife of former President of Nigeria
Patience Jonathan, wife of former President of Nigeria

Court papers have shown Patience Jonathan, former Nigerian first lady is claiming ownership of bank accounts allegedly worth $31.5 million that have been frozen in a corruption investigation.

The wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan has filed suit asking the Federal High Court to unfreeze five accounts at Skye Bank that were frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in July.

But Nigerian media are quoting unidentified commission officers as saying all but one of the accounts were not in her name but were set up in the names of domestic workers employed by one of her lawyers.

The lawyer, a senior aide to the former president and a bank official are among people named in the corruption case.

The commission’s spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read more on AP/Mail Online

On 14 September, The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asked Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to use his offices as a defender of public interest to urgently institute and undertake criminal proceedings against Patience Jonathan over $15m unexplained wealth frozen in four companies’ accounts.

“take this step within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty in this matter,” SERAP said.

The letter dated 13 September, 2016 and signed by SERAP’S Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni argued that, “Mrs Jonathan is a politically exposed person under anti-corruption standards.

She is also covered under the definition of ‘public officials’ contained in the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party. Under article 2 of the convention, public officials include Mrs Jonathan or any other family members of the former President Goodluck Jonathan who exercised official duties while he was president.”

The letter reads in part: “According to article 2 “for the purpose of some specific measures contained in chapter II of this Convention, “public official” may mean any person who performs a public function or provides a public service.”

“Thus, article 2 makes it very clear that any person, such as Mrs Jonathan performing a public function, entrusted with a public task or to whom public functions have been assigned are public officials, regardless of whether they have been elected or appointed, paid or unpaid.”

Read SERAP’s letter to the Attorney-General here

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