- Bank Stops Patience Jonathan from Withdrawing $5.9m Money
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has barred Patience Jonathan, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, from withdrawing money from a $5.9m account with Skye Bank, which was ordered to be unfrozen by a court last week.
This is just as the EFCC has begun fresh move to ensure that a separate $15m, which was traced to Patience, is permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
It was learnt, on Monday, that Mrs. Jonathan was barred from operating the $5m account after a Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered that the restriction on the account be lifted.
A reliable source said the EFCC was able to obtain a ‘stay of execution’, a court order obtained for the purpose of suspending the execution of a court judgment.
The source said, “Shortly after the judge ordered that the account be unfrozen, the EFCC quickly obtained a stay of execution in order to prevent her from having access to the money.
“The EFCC communicated with the relevant authorities at Skye Bank that it was important that she wasn’t allowed to withdraw the money or else, the whole purpose of the freezing would have been defeated.”
In a ruling on Thursday, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun set aside the ‘No-Debit Order’, which the EFCC had earlier placed on the account on allegations that the $5.9m found in it was proceeds of crime.
The judge upheld the contention of Patience’s lawyer, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), that his client’s account was unlawfully frozen by the EFCC.
Adedipe had urged the court to unfreeze Patience account on the grounds that she was not a party to the suit leading to the freezing order.
Citing judicial authorities, Adedipe contended that the suit was an abuse of court processes, contending that the court had no jurisdiction to make an order against someone who was not a party in a suit filed before the court.
Following the favourable court order, Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyer went before Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, praying the judge to order the EFCC to release to Patience the sum of $15.591m, which was seized from four companies by the anti-graft agency.
Justice Idris adjourned to May 8, 2017 to decide whether or not to grant the prayer.
Impeccable sources within the EFCC, however, told our correspondent that the EFCC would do everything possible within the law to ensure that the money was never returned to Patience.
The fresh move by the EFCC is coming about three days after President Muhammadu Buhari instructed anti-graft agencies to stop losing court cases and do more diligent investigations.
The source added, “In line with the President’s directive, we are changing our strategy to ensure that court cases are not lost. We are covering all angles. We understand that the war against corruption is one of President Buhari’s cardinal goals.”
In an interview on Monday, Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyer, Adedipe, admitted that the bank had not allowed his client to withdraw money from the account, but disagreed with the notion that the account had been frozen again.
He explained that Skye Bank, rather than comply with the court’s order unfreezing the accounts, was banking on the fact that the EFCC had gone on appeal to challenge the unfreezing of the account and had also filed a stay of execution.
Adedipe said, “After the account was unfrozen, the EFCC filed an appeal and a purported stay of execution and on that basis, the bank has not given us access. I have told the bank that it risks litigation. I will not say more than that for now.”
The EFCC had, in June last year, arrested four domestic servants, including a driver and a houseboy, who allegedly operated bank accounts belonging to Patience.
Sources within the anti-graft agency said the identities of the domestic servants were used in opening the company accounts.
The companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.
The four company accounts, which have since been frozen by the EFCC, have a balance of about $15m while another account, which bears Patience Jonathan’s name, has $5m.
Mr. Sammie Somiari, who deposed to an affidavit on behalf of Patience, said the former first lady was the owner of the money in the accounts.
She had revealed that she gave millions of dollars to the then Special Adviser to the President on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa, to open an account for her.
He, however, claimed that Dudafa opened five accounts for Patience and that only one of the accounts was in her name, while the other four were opened in the names of companies belonging to Dudafa.
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
In Search For The New EFCC Chairman, Justice Ayo Salami Panel Advises Buhari to Look Outside The Police Force
Justice Ayo Salami’s panel advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look outside the Nigerian Police Force for the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A credible source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to follow the panel recommendation to avoid a similar fate to that of Magu, the former chairman.
The source also confirmed that the panel recommendation was a result of sleaze allegations against suspended acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Also, that search team would be constituted in the next few days to slim down the possibilities of finding the right candidate to bring into reality the President’s vision of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.
The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu, a commissioner of police, were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.
As advised by the panel, the new EFCC chairman should be in interim position for two years.
It was suggested that the recommendation from the Justice Ayo Salami panel might have pinned Magu, according to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, he advised president Buhari to consider looking into other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as considering important and diligent staff of EFCC in his plans to appoint the next EFCC chairman, as s provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.
Following the Justice Ayo Salami panel recommendation, Salami said “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the police. Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).
“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC.
“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of non-promotion of core staff for over nine years.
“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, the arrangement would be made for the appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism”.
Justice Ayo Salami appreciated the president for giving members of the panel an avenue to serve the country.
Ezekwesili Presents Research Findings on Fixing Nigeria’s Politics
She stated this at the public launch of #FixPolitics, where she presented findings from her fellowship research on how to fix politics in Nigeria and Africa more broadly.
Ezekwesili invited 124 Nigerians from diverse fields of endeavour and geopolitical zones to collaborate on designing the research findings over the last one year as a Work Study Group. The group is the co-leadership organ responsible for an integrated citizens-led actions to fix the broken political system.
She pointed out that politics in Nigeria was not fulfilling the core requirement of a democratic system, which was to provide good governance for the common wellbeing of citizens.
“My research findings primarily reinforce that the poor state of affairs in Nigeria is the consequence of the quality of politics at play. Politics is at the heart of everything any society can or will become. The essential process of democracy is not complete without politics,” the 2019 Nigerian Presidential candidate said.
In her study, she established primarily that in a democratic system, “there are three triangular pillars which determine the kind of outcomes that politics will produce for the people.
Explaining the concept, the former World Bank vice president said, “On the right angle or demand side of the triangle is the electorate; on the left or supply side is the politicians, political class and parties; and at the top is the regulatory – constitutional, legal, electoral and institutional context within which the politics happen.”
According to her, these tripod pillars create an interconnecting network of actions that determine the outcomes of every political system.
“Every pillar or angle of the triangle must function effectively and concurrently with the other two to enable the right quality of politics that will deliver strong economic performance for a people.
“In evaluating the outcome of politics in Nigeria and Africa, my study established that the quality of the electorate, quality of political class and quality and lack of independence and capacity of political institutions constitute a structural and systemic problem for democracy and must therefore be fixed by citizens,” Ezekwesili said.
She also said, “The research found that Nigeria is ridden with politicians without competing ideas of how to solve the problems of citizens, who lack a culture of public service and subordinate the common good to their personal and narrow interests.
“The constitutional, legal, institutional and regulatory environment is compromised by the political class to more frequently act without independence, fairness and adherence to the rule of law. The political space is thus completely monopolised by the supply side of governance, that is the political class, thereby causing political, economic and social stagnation for the nation and people.
“Currently in our politics, voters generally lack the level of influence necessary to compel the right political processes and good outcomes that serve the good of all in society.
“The bright prospect is that evidence from the #FixPolitics research shows that citizens are the only angle of the triangle that can act and propel systemic change by collectively and decisively acting for their common good.”
To alter the status quo, Ezekwesili said only the electorate “have the incentive to correct the abnormality in a political system.”
She added, “It is the collective effort of citizens that can change the quality of political class and compel the kind of constitutional and electoral changes required to achieve good governance.”
Delivering a keynote address, former President Felipe Calderon of Mexico said there was an enormous gap between the interests of the citizens and that of the politicians, which he saw as a major problem to a democratic setting.
“To fix politics in Nigeria, the citizens and the politicians must work together and represent the same in practical life,” he said.
Calderon further said that “citizens must change their perception of politics and political participation rather than holding to a view that politics is for corrupt and dishonest people.”
According to him, corrupt people are quite the opposite of what politics stands. “To fix politics is what happens when the people participate and take responsibility to provide political participation with ethical sense and ethical parameters,” Calderon added.
In a goodwill message, former President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda, said politics should be seen as an inclusive love affair and if institutionally implemented, “Africa will witness a great change in its democratic system.”
While dissecting the dynamics of democracy, three intergenerational panels with discussants like Prof. Atahiru Jega, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Aisha Yesufu, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Jude Abaga(also known as M.I Abaga), Cynthia Mbamalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Samson Itodo, among others, agreed that there was an emerging consensus to fix politics in Nigeria as the status quo was untenable and unsustainable.
Speakers like Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Ayo Sogunro, Ndi Kato, Adewunmi Emoruwa, and Dr. Usman Bugaje highlighted that “there is a need for young people and women to fully engage in partisan politics, create platforms for political engagement, use politics as a tool for framing a shared vision based on a new dominant value orientation of public service, connect the elite with the grassroots and mobilise the Nigerian public to mount pressure on the legislature for the right constitutional and electoral changes.”
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