The Union of Niger Delta Youth Organisation for Equity, Justice and Good Governance has dragged the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to court for their respective roles in reporting and freezing some bank accounts linked to Patience Jonathan, the former first lady of Nigeria.
The Niger Delta youths group, in court papers of the case marked FHC/L/CS/1349/2016 presented before a Federal High Court in Lagos, narrated:
“The funds in question were legitimate gifts from her friends and well-wishers over the last 15 years which she had been saving in order to utilise to upgrade family businesses and concerns which had been somewhat dormant by reason of the long period of her husband service as a public officer in Nigeria.
“The gifts were given in small contributions by several persons some of whom she cannot even now recall over this period of 15 years sometimes in as small a gift as N250,000. In order to preserve the value of these funds which she did not require for any purpose at the time she changed them into foreign exchange and kept them as cash for a long period in her home safe in Port Harcourt and Abuja.
“It was when the family home in Otuoke was burnt down by hoodlums under the instigation of political adversaries in 2010 that she began to think about banking these gifts which had now grown to large sums in United States Dollars. In 2010 she therefore summoned one of her husband’s domestic aides, Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa to assist her in opening bank accounts into which the funds could be deposited.
“Unknown to her the said Dudafa in a bid to be discreet about the owner of the funds decided to bank the funds in the names of companies owned by him. When she discovered this she was constrained to continue with the names of the companies when she was advised that it did not make any difference as to the ownership of the funds since the director of the company would appoint her as sole signatory to the accounts in question.
“When in 2016 Dudafa was arrested and detained she had no fear for the funds as she realised that the funds could not be attributable to him once it was discovered that she was the sole signatory to the said accounts. It was therefore a rude shock to her when she discovered that a no transaction order had been placed on the accounts by the EFCC in the belief that the funds belonged to Dudafa.
“She instructed her solicitors to further write to the EFCC to inform them that the funds belong to her and that they formed a part of her legitimate earnings over the last 15 years. It was this letter that was leaked by the EFCC to the media that became sensationalised and led to the plaintiff’s vilification and attack by ignorant persons who had no information about the matter.
“SERAP is playing to the public gallery in order to gain the notoriety it has achieved over the past years. SERAP has done this mostly by intervening in high profile issues without regard to the rights of persons it claims to protect.
“SERAP jumped into the fray of ignorant accusations being made against Mrs Dame Patience Jonathan in the public media and has begun a campaign of calumny against her using online, print and electronic media to publish to the public unfounded and malicious allegations that she stole the funds in question and ought to be prosecuted.: