Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, has urged a Federal High Court in Lagos to restrain a human rights organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, from coercing the attorney-general of the federation to prosecute her over “unfounded and malicious allegations that she stole $15 million.”
She said that the $15 million was a gift she received over the last 15 years from friends and well-wishers.
SERAP is an organisation started by Femi Falana, a senior lawyer and former human rights activists, who is now affiliated with the All Progressives Congress, APC.
In a statement on Thursday, October 20, 2016 the Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni disclosed that the organisation had been served with court papers in Patience’s suit marked, FHC/L/CS/1349/2016.
Mumuni said the suit was filed by members of the Union of Niger Delta Youth Organisation for Equity, Justice and Good Governance on behalf of themselves and Patience.
The plaintiffs are seeking a court order of interim injunction restraining SERAP from using any judicial process to coerce the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to prosecute Patience for “owning legitimate private property.” The group also urged the court to restrain SERAP from “taking any further steps in further vilification, condemnation and conviction of the former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, in all public media.”
They accused SERAP of engaging in a campaign of calumny against Patience, they filed an affidavit in support of this claim.
They also averred, “There has been a running battle between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Mrs. Jonathan with respect to the release of her legitimately earned funds, which were deposited in accounts opened in the names of certain companies by one of her husband’s aides without her authorisation.
“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 reasons 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 the United States dollars.
“In 2010 she therefore summoned one of her husband’s domestic aids, 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,” the plaintiff explained.