No Nigerian government agency has said Patience Jonathan stole $15.5 million from it – Lawyer

Dame Patience Jonathan
Dame Patience Jonathan

The lawyer representing Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, a former aide to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, on Friday told a federal court that no government agency had come forward to claim ownership of the $15.5 million for which his client is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Gboyega Oyewole said the former first lady, Patience Jonathan, had continued to lay claim to the money, even filing a fundamental rights enforcement suit before a court.

“Neither the Federal Government nor any of its agencies; neither any state nor its agencies have claimed the fund as their own or that it was stolen from them,” said Mr. Oyewole.

The money, which the EFCC had since frozen in four Skye Bank accounts, was opened in the name of the companies – Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Co. Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.

The companies were arraigned alongside Mr. Dudafa, who served as Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to Mr. Jonathan; Amajuoyi Briggs, a former presidential aide; and Adedamola Bolodeoku, a former Skye Bank official for money laundering, stealing, forgery, and conspiracy before Justice Babs Kuewunmi of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.

In a dramatic twist on the day of arraignment, last month, all the companies pleaded guilty to the 15-count charge.

Messrs Dudafa, Briggs, and Bolodeoku pleaded not guilty before the judge.

The judge had adjourned to September 27 for the EFCC to review the facts of the case before he would determine the fate of the companies.

But on the date, Mr. Oyewole and Tochukwu Onyiuke, counsel to Mr. Briggs, appeared in court with two separate applications, urging the court to change the plea of the four companies from guilty to not guilty.

Mr. Oyewole said there was no document before the court to prove that the four people who had pleaded guilty on behalf of the companies were authorised to take the plea, adding that they had in their statement to the EFCC stated that they were neither directors of the companies nor had anything to do with the companies.

He also said in the face of Mrs. Jonathan’s claim over the money, allowing the guilty plea by the four companies and convicting them of money laundering charges would amount to “a gross abuse of the judicial process and an attack on the principle of fairness and justice.”

Mr. Oyewole said his client was afraid that the guilty plea entered by the four companies would adversely affect him since the proceedings were joint proceedings and the first count bordered on conspiracy.

On his own part, Mr. Onyiuke challenged the jurisdiction and competence of the judge to even entertain the arraignment of the four companies in the first place.

“The condition precedent to this honourable court assuming jurisdiction, to wit: authority to represent the 4th to 7th defendants by their purported representatives further to Section 477(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, was completely lacking,” said Mr. Onyiuke.

He said accepting the guilty plea of the companies who admitted that they conspired with his client to launder the money would be a miscarriage of justice against his client.

But the EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to throw out the two applications, which he described as an abuse of court processes.

He argued that it was too late for Mr. Briggs to challenge the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charges after the defendants had already submitted themselves and had been arraigned.

He also pointed the attention of the court to the statements of accounts from Skye Bank where the $15.5 million was kept, showing that those who took the plea on the companies’ behalf were the authorised persons with the mandate to operate the accounts.

He said the accounts were opened pursuant to documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission where they were registered as directors in the companies.

“The prima facie evidence before Your Lordship is that those who appeared before Your Lordship are the directors of the 4th to 7th defendants,” said Mr. Oyedepo.

In his ruling on Friday, Justice Kuewumi dismissed the applications brought by Messrs Dudafa and Briggs, describing them as an abuse of court process.

The judge noted that Mr. Dudafa had already gone before the Court of Appeal to challenge the guilty plea entered by the four companies and, as a result, he could no longer take a decision on the issue.

“Once an issue is pending in the Court of Appeal, it will be inappropriate for a lower court to pronounce anything on the same issue,” Mr. Kuewunmi said.

The instant application constitutes an abuse of court process; same is hereby dismissed.”

The judge adjourned till November 2, 2016 for the EFCC to open its case.


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  • henry

    Even if the Former first lady printed the money in her home or the money fall from heaven there will always be a source.Tell them the source which is less rigorous than saying nobody said money was missing.

    • George

      Who ever tells you the source of his or her money.

      Abacha wife did abi, or Buhari wife from Mali did abi, or OBJ did abi, or Dangote did abi.

      Silly boy.

      • Observer

        You are buffoonish. Listen to yourself.

        • Mufu Ola

          Original & unrepentant buffoon he is.

      • Julius

        You are a moron and we need to deport people like you back to biafraud !!

  • Uncle TEE

    Why is it that most Nigerian lawyers are lazy. When someone is accused of stealing the first thing they say is either the enforcement of fundamental human rights of the accused even though the accused is not in custody or they talk about the competence of the judge to hear the case?.

    • Mufu Ola

      Very lazy indeed.Especially the SANs. In any case they handle the 1st thing u see them doing is arguing about jurisdiction or ‘human rights’.Why? Because they have no way of defending their clients.

      • Julius

        There you go..straight to the point !!

  • Man_Enough

    The case of missing money abound. Sometime this year, the vice president disclosed that a mind-boggling sum of $15bn lost to corruption in security equipment procurement. Former CBN governor, Sansui Lamido, informed the nation that $20billion was missing from the coffers of the federal government and was sacked for daring to do so. Samuel Ukura, the auditor-general, issued a report in march 2015 claiming that NNPC failed to account for about $16 billion in revenue owed to the state’s treasury although NNPC owned up to only $1.64 billion claiming that the shortfall was because the audit failed to account for maintenance fees, subsidy on oil products, and losses from crude-oil theft.
    If money is missing and somebody is found with money she cannot account for, is it not logical to suspect that it could be part of the stolen money? Let her simply prove the source of her money beyond reasonable doubt.

    • Baba B

      Thank you my brother

  • Rommel

    Neither did any state agency accuse the former first lady of stealing but rather,it was her that brought herself to lay claims to money that has been traced to persons under investigations for stealing public money

  • agbobu

    AND ALL THIS VERY CHEAP, VERY INFANTILE AND VERY SHAMELESS BLACKMAIL WILL
    NOT AND NEVER EVER WASH ONE IOTA WITH WE THE PEOPLE THE MASSES OF
    NIGERIA. WE WANT THE AUTHORITIES TO THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE PATIENCE
    JONATHAN, GOODLUCK JONATHAN AND ALL THOSE WHO VERY RECKLESSLY AND
    MASSIVELY LOOTED AND STOLE ALL OUR MONEY, NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE OR
    WHERE THEY ARE IN THIS PLANET. THESE THIEVES MUST BE PROBED,
    INVESTIGATED, TRIED IN COURT AND IF FOUND QUILTY MUST BE VERY SEVERELY
    PUNISHED. ANY THING SHORT OF THIS IS VERY UNACCEPTABLE AND NOT AN
    OPTION. THESE THIEVES AND VERY SHAMELESS LOOTERS MUST HANG THEIR VERY
    WRETCHED HEADS IN PERMANENT SHAME AND DISGRACE

  • Baba B

    My question here is, is Dudafa a director in any or all of the mentioned companies If no why is he then appeallingly on their behalf? I am not a lawyer so I asking those who are lawyers in this forum to please clarify this.