Former First Lady Patience Jonathan has a lot of explaining to do after millions of dollars were traced to her bank accounts
Dame Patience Ibifaka Jonathan’s last job was as a ghost permanent secretary in the Bayelsa State civil service.
Last week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) successfully traced a whopping $31.4m to several accounts run by Nigeria’s former First Lady. Most of the accounts were opened in the names of proxies; from domestic servants to drivers.
The anti-graft agency has also linked a 5-star N10bn hotel--Aridolf Resort Wellness and Spa, Yenagoa—to Mrs. Jonathan
Here’s a recap of the gist just in case you’ve been under some rock:
The Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa, was commissioned to open front accounts for Mrs. Jonathan.
An EFCC operative put it this way-- “We were investigating Dudafa when we stumbled on those four companies’ domiciliary accounts opened at Skye Bank with a balance of about $15m. On further investigation, we were able to identify the directors of the companies.
“When we detained the directors, we found out that they were Dudafa’s domestic servants. One of them was a houseboy while another one was a driver. Their photographs were used in opening the accounts and their signatures were forged.
“We found out that these domestic servants were completely innocent because they had no access to the accounts. We have since released them. The sole signatory to the accounts was Patience Jonathan and she was issued with a special card, which is accepted worldwide. She has a separate account, which was opened in her name and has a balance of $5m.”
From whichever angle this is viewed, it’s a hot mess and Mrs. Jonathan has a lot of explaining to do.
You don’t accumulate billions of Naira in a five-year span from being a permanent secretary in the civil service.
Mrs. Jonathan had no commercial endeavour of note within the period when the accounts were opened and the monies funneled. And even if she did, it is unlikely that her business would have returned that much money between 2010 and 2015.
Even more worrying is that Skye Bank officials have been found to be complicit in the transactions; helping Mrs. Jonathan stash monies for which she had no discernible explanations. This underscores the sharp practices prevalent on the nation's banking floors.
“This is a clear case of fraud and there is no way the bank officials will say they did not know what was going on. They are under investigation and those found culpable will be arraigned,” an EFCC operative told Punch newspaper.
It is now trite that looting of the nation’s treasury was the norm under former President Jonathan. Like a bazaar, everyone with some connection to Jonathan, practically helped themselves to the coffers. It is not unlikely that the millions of dollars tumbling out of Mrs. Jonathan’s bank accounts belong to the State.
The accounts have since been frozen by the EFCC. And just as well. It is expected that law enforcement and the courts expedite action on this case and ensure that it isn’t swept under the carpet.
Said Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay(SAN), “The EFCC and ICPC Act have provisions under which they can ask the court to freeze the account of a person if a person’s capacity to earn is below the amount of money that the person appears to have.
“If you are living a lavish lifestyle and it appears you don’t have the means to have acquired the property and the wealth you have, the EFCC is free to probe you.
“If she is claiming the money belongs to her, she has put herself in a position where she must explain how she earned it.”
On this, the renown SAN and yours truly are in agreement. The EFCC has no choice but to go after Mrs. Jonathan and her 'accomplices' with all it's got.