Indications have emerged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is about to file application in court asking the former First Lady, Patience Jonathan to forfeit the $15,591,700 traced to her account.
The money is currently stocked in the Skye Bank account of four companies: Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Company Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited.
The four accounts, which were linked to a former Special Adviser to the President on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa, have since been frozen by the agency.
The companies also pleaded guilty to money laundering charges leveled against them.
A senior EFCC official told Punch that the anti-graft agency would subsequently apply for the total forfeiture of the funds.
He said, “The four companies, in whose accounts the monies were lodged, have pleaded guilty to money laundering. We are therefore filing an application, seeking the complete and total forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.
The four accused companies pleaded guilty to conspiring with Dudafa; a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs; and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku, to launder the sum of $15, 591,700 on or about November 13, 2013.
The EFCC, while arraigning the seven accused persons before a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday, admitted to the court that the $15.6m were proceeds of theft.
The sureties, the court said, must be resident in Lagos and must be owners of landed property in any highbrow area, the Certificate of Occupancy of which they were to deposit with the court.
The sureties were also to show evidence of tax payment.
The court adjourned till September 27, 2016 for commencement of trial.
In the suit filed by Patience, laying claim to the $15m, which is the subject of prosecution of Dudafa and others, one Sammie Somiari, who deposed to an affidavit on behalf of Patience, claimed that Dudafa helped Patience to open the bank accounts in 2010.
According to him, Dudafa had, on March 22, 2010, brought two Skye Bank officials to meet Patience at home to open five accounts.
He, however, claimed that after the five accounts were opened, Patience later discovered that Dudafa opened only one of the accounts in her name while the other four were opened in the names of companies belonging to Dudafa.
Somiari added, “The applicant (Patience) complained about this to Honourable Dudafa, who, at his prompting and instance, promised to effect the change of the said accounts to the applicant’s name; and to effect this change, Honourable Dudafa brought the said bank manager, Mr. Dipo Oshodi, who purported to have effected the changes. This was about April 2014.
“The applicant is not a director, shareholder or participant in the companies named in the aforementioned four accounts.
“The bank official, Mr. Dipo Oshodi, as it would appear, did not effect or reflect the instruction of the applicant to change the said accounts to her name despite repeated requests of the applicant.”
In her reaction to the court proceedings on Thursday, Patience said the four accused persons, who pleaded guilty to money laundering charges on behalf of the four companies linked her, were mercenaries hired by the EFCC.
The ex-President’s wife stated this in a statement on Thursday by her media aide, Chima Osuji.
She alleged that the EFCC presented four unknown persons, who were not authorized by the companies’ boards, to plead guilty on behalf of the companies.
Patience added, “This is a clear evidence of the desperation of the prosecution to pull down the former First Lady and confiscate her hard-earned money.
“It is an irony that it was the former First Lady who went to court for the repatriation of her confiscated money when she realized that the EFCC and its co-travelers were playing politics with this issue after she had come out publicly to say that the said money belonged to her and that she had all evidence to prove the sources of her money.
“Up until this very moment, the EFCC has refused to interrogate or invite her for questioning.”
Meanwhile, a group under the aegis of Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), has called on EFCC to invite Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan for questioning over the $31.4m fraud hanging around her neck.
The Executive Director of the CHRICED, Ibrahim Zikirullah said since the former First Lady, had claimed the ownership of the money, she should be arraigned in court without delay.