EFCC sends team to Port Harcourt, Yenagoa over four other choice assets linked to ex-First Lady
•May forfeit alleged properties to Federal Government
•Four accounts containing $19m to remain frozen
•Commission insists Mrs. Jonathan must explain source of fund
Former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan appears to have more explanation to make to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) besides the $19 million just frozen in her accounts.
Mrs. Jonathan has just been linked with five choice properties including a N5billion hotel in Abuja.
The EFCC is currently studying documents on how the Abuja hotel (names withheld) was built.
It has also dispatched a team of investigators to Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and Port Harcourt, Rivers State for the purpose of establishing the ownership of four properties in the two cities.
The anti-graft agency is likely to confiscate the five properties once it is able to confirm that they belong to Mrs. Jonathan.
One of the pieces of evidence the EFCC has in its possession in its probe of the ex-First Lady is her cumulative pay and perks as a civil servant in Bayelsa State where she rose to the post of Permanent Secretary.
Sources said the pay details are far below the $31million which the ex-First Lady claimed as her legitimately earned money.
The EFCC is insisting that Mrs. Jonathan must account for how she came about the cash wired into the five accounts to which she is a signatory or forfeit it to the Federal Government.
One of the sources familiar with the probe said the money used in acquiring the properties under investigation appears to be gratification to Mrs. Jonathan when her husband was in power.
The source said: “Based on intelligence report, we have isolated five properties allegedly identified with the ex-First Lady. These properties include a N5billion hotel in Abuja and four others in Yenagoa and Port Harcourt.
“A special team has gone to verify all these assets in the affected areas including the contractors engaged, the mode of payment to them, relevant land registration documents, and associates used as fronts.
“In the next few days, we will start questioning all those involved in the acquisition or building of the assets. We are lucky that this investigation has a lot of e-transaction and computerization components. There is no hiding place for anyone involved.
“If at the end of the day the five assets belong to the ex-First Lady, we will approach the court to place all these assets under Interim Assets Forfeiture in line with Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004.”
Section 28 of the EFCC Act stipulates that: “Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.”
Section 13 of the Federal High Court Act reads in part: “The Court may grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in all cases in which it appears to the Court to be just or convenient so to do.
“Any such order may be made either unconditionally or on such terms and conditions as the Court thinks just.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “If our investigation reveals that the assets are not owned by Mrs. Patience Jonathan, we will return them to their legitimate owners.”
The EFCC is not about to defreeze Mrs. Jonathan’s accounts under investigation.
“We have retrieved documents on the pay package and monetized perks of Mrs. Patience Jonathan when she was a Permanent Secretary in the government of Bayelsa State. Her total emoluments do not tally with the funds remitted into the five accounts,” an EFCC source said.
“She owes us a duty to explain how she came about these funds. Our investigation showed that the funds came from gratifications; it is left to her to prove otherwise.
“The good thing is that the ex-First Lady was the one who sued EFCC demanding the release of her $31million. She has a duty as a former public officer to explain how she earned the funds. Did she declare these funds in her Assets Declaration Form as a Permanent Secretary?
“We are happy that the case is in court and the onus is on her to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that she is the owner of the funds. If we had initiated the action, some people by now will be accusing EFCC of witch-hunt.
“But she went to court to exercise her rights under the law. The same law demands that you must seek equity with clean hands. I think the press should take more than a passing interest in what is going on in the court.”
The anti-graft agency claimed last week that it has established a prima facie case of money laundering against the ex-First Lady and 10 others.
The 11 suspects may face trial for money laundering if the recommendation of the investigative team is upheld.
The EFCC declared that “preliminary investigation has also indicted Mrs. Patience Jonathan.”
The other 10 suspects indicted by the investigative team are a former Senior Special Assistant ( Domestic / Household and Social Events to the former President), Dr. Dudafa Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel; Damola Bolodeoku; Dipo Oshodi; Theodora Varinik; Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development and Investment Limited; Globus Integrated Services Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Skye Bank Plc. The report said in part: “Based on the investigation so far carried out, it has revealed that the four fraudulent VISA Platinum USD Card accounts used by Mrs. Patience Goodluck Jonathan has a cumulative balance of $14,029.881.79 which has been swept Post No Debit Card category.
“Again, her personal account, different from the four fraudulent VISA Platinum USD Card accounts, bears the balance of $5,841,426.17.
“Considering the above stated findings, we can safely conclude that a prima facie case of conspiracy to retain proceeds of unlawful activities, retention of the proceeds of unlawful activities, money laundering contrary to Section 15(3) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and forgery contrary to Section 1(2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation, 2004 have been established against the aforementioned suspects.”
Also, Mrs. Jonathan has admitted that she is the owner and signatory to the five accounts in which the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) found over $22.3million.
She said she has never received any monies from any unknown sources paid into the five accounts.
But she was silent on the sources of the cash wired into the affected accounts.
She however explained that the accounts were opened to facilitate her travel overseas particularly for medical treatment, sundry purchase for herself and her late mother Mrs. Charity Oba (Mama Sisi).
She indicted Wampemo-Owei Dudafa who was the Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to the former President Dr. Jonathan, and Skye Bank officials for registering phony companies for four of the five accounts.
A statement by her Media Office said: “Sometime in 2013, following the advice of top officials of the EFCC then in the company of Wampemo-Owei Dudafa who was the Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to the former President Dr. Jonathan, that she should not travel oversees with cash otherwise she may contravene Money Laundering laws, Mrs. Patience Jonathan agreed to open accounts with Skye Bank Plc and directed Dudafa to see to it.
“Dudafa came with two bank managers (Officials) of Skye Bank Plc with the account opening forms which she duly signed.
“These accounts were all dollar based Platinum Visa cards in respect of five accounts.
“When the bank officials brought the ATM cards for the said accounts of which she is sole signatory, she discovered to her surprise that only one of these accounts bore her personal name while four were in the names of companies not known to her.
“She immediately complained about this anomaly to Dudafa and the bank officials, Demola Doledeoku and Dipo Oshodi came back to the villa with forms to change and convert the said accounts to the personal name of Mrs. Jonathan.
“This was her firm request which the bank officials promised to effect immediately and she duly completed account conversion forms and signed the mandate forms as a the sole signatory, but as it would appear, the said bank officials did not change the Account names despite her request.
“It was in 2014 or thereabout that she was given the ATM cards for all the five accounts with the bank officials promising to exchange the cards for the four reflecting her correct names. This again, the banks officials failed to do despite her repeated request.”
President Buhari Accuses Governors of Stealing LG Funds
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has once again accused state governors of stealing monthly allocation due to local government under them.
The president spoke at a parley with members of the Senior Executive Course of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the president stated that it beats anyone’s imagination how some governors collected money on behalf of council areas in their states, only to remit just half of such allocation to the council chairmen, who would further deplete the remittance by filching it. Investors King learnt.
‘‘I found it necessary to digress after reading my speech and this digression is a result of my personal experience. What they did, this is my personal experience, if the money from the Federation Account to the state is about N100m, N50m will be sent to the chairman, but he will sign that he received N100m. The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to share it with,” the president narrated.
‘‘This is what’s happening. This is Nigeria. It’s a terrible thing; you cannot say the person who was doing this is not educated. He was a qualified lawyer, he was experienced, yet he participated in this type of corruption.” he queried.
Furthermore, the president clarified that state governors and local government chairmen should be held responsible for the underdevelopment in the rural areas noting that most of the local governments lack basic amenities.
Similarly, the National Union of Local Government Employees on Thursday backed the position of the president on the embezzlement and mismanagement of local government funds.
Responding to Buhari’s position, the President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Hakeem Ambali, said Buhari was merely stating the obvious.
The NULGE President nevertheless admonished the president to go beyond the statement and ensure governors, especially those in APC to sign the local government autonomy bill into law.
“He should go beyond that statement. He is the leader of the party, he should ask them to sign the autonomy into law; he is the leader of the governors,’’ he said.
Ramaphosa Braces for Calls to Resign Over $580,000 Theft at Farm
The panel found the president may have violated sections of the constitution following a theft of $580,000 that was stashed in a sofa at a game farm he owns.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s allies are steeling themselves before a meeting of the governing party’s top leaders at which he’s likely to face calls for his resignation.
The African National Congress’s National Executive Committee will on Thursday discuss the findings by an advisory panel that there may be a case for Ramaphosa’s impeachment. The panel found the president may have violated sections of the constitution following a theft of $580,000 that was stashed in a sofa at a game farm he owns.
The release of the panel’s report on Wednesday night triggered a slump in the rand. The NEC meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Party officials met with the ANC’s chief whip and the speaker of parliament to discuss the report on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter. A group of NEC members sympathetic to Ramaphosa held a meeting of their own, said the people who asked not to be identified discussing private party matters.
Pule Mabe, the ANC’s spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment sent by text message.
The meeting of Ramaphosa’s supporters was called by Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele. Two NEC members who are close to Ramaphosa expressed concern that the president may opt to resign — a replay of what happened in June when the scandal over the game-farm theft first erupted and he took advice on whether or not he should quit.
Ibom MRO to Bring in Forex to Nigeria
Akwa Ibom State to open a cutting-edge smart terminal building at the Victor Attah International Airport
The governor of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel, has announced that the state is close to opening a cutting-edge smart terminal building at the Victor Attah International Airport and that this will generate foreign exchange for Nigeria.
This comes on the heels of praise from his Edo State counterpart, Gov. Godwin Obaseki, who attended the Tuesday reception in Uyo for two additional A320-200 Airbus aircraft that the state’s Ibom Air fleet had leased from a European company.
Speaking at the event, the governor of Akwa Ibom said that while there were already efforts underway to persuade the government to lease the MRO, the MRO is an investment because it was built with naira, despite its current depreciation, and will therefore generate income.
The Akwa Ibom governor said “Our terminal building is world-class in Africa, our MRO is world-class. If you find one today in the entire Gulf of Guinea, tell me I’ll disassemble this one and build another.
“Look at our MRO; what you see here can accommodate two 747 aircraft as well as eight CRJ aircraft, which we are flying for servicing at the same time.”
“This is the only MRO in this part of the world today, and these facilities are not built with local currency, but we are building this MRO with naira that has no value.”
“I invest in areas where we can see a return on our money. Right now without blinking an eye, I can make over $ 30 million with this MRO if we decide to sell but we are not selling, we will make a foreign exchange from this investment.
“Airbus is on us to come and lease our MRO for all their regional flights, but we are not selling.
“We are going to open up this place ( MRO facility) from January next year for commercial activities and we are going to earn in dollars.”
He thanked Ibom Air’s Board of Directors, Management, and Staff for making him proud, emphasising that “they have done very well.”
Gov. Obaseki, who spoke at the event, stated that Akwa Ibom has become the country’s flagship state for its efforts to invest in and make significant strides in the aviation sector.
Obaseki described Akwa Ibom as the country’s flagship state for its efforts to invest in and expand the aviation sector. “Ibom Air is always completely booked.” Let me thank you on behalf of Nigerians,’’ Obaseki said.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of Ibom Airlines., Mr Mfon Udom announced plans to begin regional flights in 2023.
Udom said the new addition to the fleet of Ibom Air would expand its carrying capacity and boost employment opportunities in the state by 40 per cent.
“With this new capacity coming on board, we are delighted to inform our passengers that we have increased our offerings, providing more frequencies for their convenience.
“The Uyo-Lagos and Uyo-Abuja routes now have three frequencies each every weekday, while our Lagos-Abuja passengers will have seven frequencies to choose from both ways, every weekday,’’ he said.
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