Letter to the EFCC by Patience Jonathan’s - accused EFCC as ‘a big thief ’
There was confusion yesterday over a letter purportedly written by the former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the freezing of a bank account containing $15.5 million.The freezing of the account by the anti-graft commission is a subject of litigation in a Lagos division of the Federal High Court.
A lawyer, Mr. Timipia Jenkins Okponipere of First Law Solicitors, in a letter to the EFCC, accused the anti-graft agency of tactically taking over Mrs. Jonathan’s account, describing the Commission as ‘a big thief ’. But lawyers in Jonathan’s camp said they had nothing to do with Okponipere and his letter to the commission.
Specifically, Mrs. Jonathan’s spokesperson, Chima Osuji, said Okponipere had no instruction of the former First Lady, describing the purported letter as the figment of the lawyer’s imagination. In a statement made available to New Telegraph, the wife of the former president washed her hands off the letter authored by Okponipere to the EFCC.
It reads: “A former First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Patience Jonathan has denied knowledge of a purported open letter by one Timipia Jenkins Okponipere of First Law Solicitors to the EFCC on the case involving the former Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, where the former First Lady was referred to as the client of the First Law Solicitors.
“We would like to inform the general public, particularly the media, that Mrs. Jonathan has no knowledge of the said letter and has not engaged the services of any legal counsel to write such letter to the EFCC or any other institution or agencies in Nigeria or elsewhere. “I want to charge members of the public and the media to disregard such insinuations or claims from any quarter.
No such letter has not emanated from the former First Lady.” But Okponipere told New men that he has the instruction of Jonathan’s wife to write such letter, especially that it has to do with enforcement of fundamental human rights.
In the letter purportedly written on behalf of the former First Lady, Okponipere branded the anti-graft agency as ‘a big thief ’. Besides, he said Mrs. Jonathan has given the agency a 14-day ultimatum within which to defreeze the account or be made to face the consequence of its illegal action at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights at the Gambia where she has threatened to claim N5 billion in damages. EFCC has already established a prima facie case of money laundering against the ex-First Lady and 10 others.
The agency had said that “a preliminary investigation has also indicted Mrs Patience Jonathan.” But Okponipere said the ex-First Lady was not culpable to the alleged offence. Instead, he said the EFCC had used the loopholes in the nation’s justice system to confiscate her legitimate funds.
“Indeed, Section 36(6) (a) & (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), contains or laid down a sequence or pattern of commencement of investigation which must be followed strictly, to wit: a.) Persons charged with a criminal offence must be informed in the language they understand and in detail of the nature of the offence; b.) Such persons must be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence; etc.
“Sir, instead of strict compliance with the above pattern, as laid down by Section 36(6)(a) & (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the EFCC went after our client’s money by ordering a freeze of her accounts. With all due respect, the EFCC is a BIG THIEF! “We are very much aware of numerous instances where EFCC used strong-arm tactics to dispossess hard working Nigerians of their legitimately earned money, only to turn around to brazenly and shamelessly loot the recovered loot,” he said.