SERAP Begs Court to Order FG to Prosecute Patience Jonathan

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  •   She should face EFCC probe, says Frank
  • Group: Politically-motivated trial of will escalates N’Delta crisis

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Paul Obi in Abuja

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the federal government before the Federal High Court in Lagos asking the court for an order of mandamus compelling the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against former First Lady Mrs. Patience Jonathan, over the $15million unexplained wealth frozen in four companies’ accounts. 

The suit with number FHC/L/CS/1318/2016 dated September 23, 2016 was filed on behalf of SERAP by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.

The suit is coming against the background of the request last week by Mrs. Jonathan for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to defreeze her accounts and offer her a public apology within 14-days.

The group alleged that Mrs. Jonathan had admitted that the four accounts belong to her and that she is the sole signatory to these accounts, adding that the four companies and their directors had also since pleaded guilty to the commission of the offence.

It noted that the fact that the $15million found in the four accounts belong to Mrs. Jonathan raises a prima-facie case of unexplained wealth and illicit enrichment, and imposes a duty on her to explain and justify the source(s) of the $15million.

 The suit which was brought under Order 34, Rules 1 (1) (a); 2, Rule 3 (1) and (2) (a), (b) and (c) of the Federal High Court Rules, 2009 read in part: “The AGF has a duty to prosecute intentional illicit enrichment, that is, a significant increase in the assets of a public official that he or she cannot reasonably explain in relation to his or her lawful income.

“By virtue of Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) the AGF is constitutionally empowered to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person in Nigeria in respect of any offence created by or under any Act of the National Assembly in superior courts in Nigeria.”

“AGF has failed, neglected and or refused to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against Mrs. Jonathan over $15million unexplained wealth frozen in her accounts.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Meawnhile, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, has described as shameful the threats coming from a Niger Delta group and the protest at Port Harcourt zonal office of the EFCC in support of the former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, over the freezing of her dollar account containing about $31.4 million.

He said EFCC should not feel threatened in carrying out its official duty and ensure that whoever is caught in the web is properly brought to book.”

A statement signed yesterday Frank, described the threat as baseless and empty threat against the federal government, saying it was high time people realised that the era of campaign is gone for now.

“My candid advise to Mrs. Patience Jonathan is to apologise to Nigerians for the current economic hardship which  Jonathan’s regime could have easily averted instead of sponsoring shameless protest. against the government, anyway, Nigerians are still waiting for the apology.”

Frank warned the youths to desist from such shameless act of defending politicians for a pot of sup, adding that the present APC administration is fighting corruption so as to secure future for them.

He said it was surprising that Mrs. Jonathan had such big amount of money in her custody and people from her region were dying of common water, saying, it took President Buhari’s government for example, to recently commission a water project even in Otuoke, Bayelsa State where Goodluck Jonathan was born.

“The show of shame call protest at the Port Harcourt office of the EFCC to demand the unfreezing of Mrs. Jonathan’s  dollar accounts was uncalled for and there is nothing wrong if the former first lady explain the source of $31.4 million to anti-corruption agency.

“The country is presently going through recession as a result of mismanagement of economy left behind by Patience Jonathan’s husband led administration which APC is working hard to correct as soon as possible.

“It should be made clear that there is nothing wrong for EFCC to invite Mrs. Patience Jonathan for questioning if the organisation suspect a vow play in accumulation of such big amount of money.

“Again, the era of above the law is over. This is a change government of accountability where rule of law is paramount.

“The number four citizen of this country today, Senate President Bukola Saraki, whose office is prominently recognise by the constitution is facing trial not to talk of one former first lady whose Nigeria constitution does not recognise.

“Again, we should also remind those who have forgotten that a national leader of APC, who was once the Vice President of this nation, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was once investigated. So, why must Mrs. Jonathan’s case be different?

“We called on the leadership of the EFCC not to feel threatened in carrying out its official duty and ensure that whoever is caught in the web is properly brought to book.”

But a group, the Human Rights and Anti-corruption Activists Movement, said politically-motivated trial of Mrs. Jonathan by the  EFCC could lead to escalation of Niger Delta crisis. The body lawyers stated this in a statement jointly issued by Ugochukwu Osuagwu, Elvis Offor, Miss Vina Amaka, Benard Nwauduna, Divine Sunday Ofuma at a press conference in Abuja.

According to the leader of the group, Osuagwu, the EFCC is indirectly probing ex- President Goodluck Jonathan which has obviously exposed the fact that the trial is politically motivated.

He said: “The former president is a crowd puller. One must exercise when you begin to probe his wife. The South-south people could see this as probing of former president Goodluck Jonathan.

“The country is a bit weak now in terms of ethnic bonding. The ethnic bond is weak so caution should be exercised by the anti-corruption agency.

“Nigeria’s ethnic bond is still shaking. We should exercise caution so as to avoid the foot soldiers on the streets who see the former president as their idol.

“The EFCC and the wife of the former president can resolve this issue quietly without involving the media. Nobody says the EFCC should not do its work. In fact they should be allowed to do their work but caution should be exercised.

“Our position is that the office of the president must be respected by citizens as that position is the highest position in the land. We advice that the president  caution and call Magu and EFCC to order.

“We are not against the fight against corruption by the EFCC but let it be done with decency and must not be done or seen as unleashing so much vendetta, vindictiveness and carefully planned and rehearsed acts of witch hunt against Mrs. patience Jonathan.

“This is a woman who has undergone 15 major operations and every Nigerian was praying for her at that period and do not deserve this treatment. The immediate past president and the wife deserve respect. “There is no need saying you are probing the wife of immediate past president. You are probing the husband as they are one,” he added.

He said: “We advice that the president has to caution and call Magu and EFCC to order.

“The immediate past president and the wife  deserve respect. There is no need to say you are probing the wife of the immediate past president , you are probing the husband as they are one.

“We as concerned citizens termed this media trial as a complete defamation of character against the past president. With the recent development , a bad precedent is being laid down.

“This media war is scaring investors away from investing meaningfully in our country. The media war is not healthy at this time as all Nigerians are facing economic recession which we are praying for God to direct the president  for a way out of this unexpected situation we found ourselves.”

Osuagwu further noted that “One must exercise caution when probing the wife of the former president because it will be seen as probing the former president who has a lot of supporters on the streets.

“The country is sitting on a gun powder and everything that is happening now has an ethnic intonation to it. We must exercise caution because the country is weak especially in ethnic bonding.

“I am not saying don’t prosecute if there is need for it, she has not been taken to court but look at the threats and statements by the militants.

“EFCC should exercise caution so as not to stir violence by the Niger Delta youths, we want peace in this country.

“ We want to draw the attention Mr. President, for the sake of unity of this country and the office of the President, we urge you to call Mr. Magu, EFCC officials and Dame Patience Jonathan to order to maintain peace and respect the seat of Presidency because it is a mockery to our country. Every Nigerian and the whole world is watching,” he said.