A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to freeze the multiple bank accounts operated by former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, on the grounds that it contains suspected proceeds of crime.
The account, with Skye Bank Plc, has a balance of $5,316.66.
Also affected by the order are five companies and one Esther Oba.
The companies are believed to have a total of N7,418,829,290.94 in six banks, while Oba has a balance of $429,381.87.
The order by the court was consequent upon an ex-parte motion filed by EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo.
He contended that there was an urgent need for the court to direct the bank to, in the interim, freeze the accounts, to prevent further dissipation of the money.
The five companies affected are Finchley Top Homes Limited, Aribawa Aruera, Magel Resort Limited, AM -PM Global Network Limited Pansy Oil and Gas Limited.
Finchley Top Homes Limited was alleged to have opened an account with Ecobank Plc which has a current balance of N226,376,700.23 and a fixed deposit with a balance of N1,099,511,484.88.
The company also has other accounts in Skye Bank and with a current balance of N14,173,848.85; Fidelity Bank with a balance of N1,800,494,000; Stanbic Bank with a balance of N40,594,12.88; and Diamond Bank with a balance of N39,418,712.12.
Aribawa Aruera Reachout Foundation opened account number 1222014221 with Ecobank and has a closing balance of N479,893,431.01, while Magel Resort Limited accounts with Fidelity Bank has a subsisting balance of N1,000,494,000.
The company also operates two other accounts in Zenith Bank, which has a balance of N858,923,982, and with Diamond Bank and has a balance of N174,166,207.
AM-PM Global Network Limited opened an account with Diamond Bank and has a balance of N7,213,303.50.
The account opened by Pansy Oil and Gas Limited at Fidelity Bank has a balance of N1,809,666,494.68, while that at Diamond Bank has a balance of N55,930,024.50.
Oba was believed to have opened an account with Diamond Bank and has a balance of $429,381.87.
All the monies, according to the anti-graft commission, are suspected to be proceeds of crime.
It said upon the receipt of an intelligence report, it carried out analyses, which showed that the accounts merited being investigated.
Consequently, Oyedepo contended that it would serve the course of justice to grant the application for such.
The presiding judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, while granting the order freezing the accounts, ordered the anti-graft agency to file an undertaking should it turn out that the order should not have been made.
Recall that a Federal High Court in Lagos presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris had recently granted leave to Mrs. Jonathan, to amend her civil suit against the commission.
The former first lady, in the civil suit before Justice Idris, is claiming that EFCC froze four of her accounts with Skye Bank in the name of four companies.
The accounts, she said, had a balance of $15,591,700 (about N5 billion) belonging to her.
But, the companies, on September 15, pleaded guilty to laundering the money when they were arraigned in a criminal charge before Justice Babs Kuewumi.
The judge, however, refused to order its forfeiture to the federal government until the trial of the others named in the charge was concluded.
The companies are: Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Friday Davis), Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Agbor Baro), Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Dioghowori Frederick) and Avalon Global Property Development Ltd (represented by Taiwo Ebenezer).
EFCC arraigned them with a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku.
Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku pleaded not guilty to the 17-count charge.
Mrs. Jonathan, in a separate suit against EFCC and Skye Bank, before Justice Idris, was seeking an order to de-freeze the accounts and release her money.
Her lawyer, Adedipe, had told Justice Idris that his client amended her claim. He said he also filed a motion to regularise his processes, which the court granted.
EFCC’s lawyer, Oyedepo, said he would also amend his response to the suit.
Justice Idris then said: “Leave will be granted to the respondent (EFCC) to file any amended process.”
Oyedepo accused the applicant of changing the address of the companies through which the suit was purportedly served on them. Mrs. Jonathan had joined the companies in her suit.
The EFCC lawyer said: “We are of the opinion that if you want to change the address of a party, it should not the adversary who will change the address of another party.
“What we saw was the applicant was changing the address of the other defendants and I don’t think that is tidy.”
Justice Kuewumi had on November 2 refused an order the forfeiture of $15.5million after convicting the companies in whose accounts the money is domiciled.
The judge said he would hand down a sentence on the companies after the trial of the others who pleaded not guilty in the charge.
Justice Kuewumi said: “The ownership issue is still pending. There’s also a pending suit on the matter.”
While reviewing the facts, Oyedepo said the money was stolen from the State House, Abuja.
He said: “EFCC received an intelligence report showing vividly that the fourth to seventh defendants retained proceeds of crime.
“Our investigations showed that Fetus Iyoha admitted receiving the fund from the first defendant (Dudafa). Iyoha is a domestic staff at the State House. He admitted that funds credited into the accounts were given to him from the State House.”
Oyedepo said Iyoha paid $3,096,377.38 into Pluto’s account; paid $3,410,534.71 into Seagate’s account, paid $3,765,711.87 into Trans Oceans’ account, and paid $250,000 into Avalon Global’s accout. All the accounts, EFCC said, are domiciled in Skye Bank Plc.
Mrs Jonathan claimed she operated the accounts even though they were opened in the companies’ names by Dudafa contrary to her instructions. She said the bank promised to rectify the issue and change the accounts names to hers’ but never did so.
Justice Idris adjourned until January 18 for hearing. Trial in case before Justice Kuewumi will continue on December 14.
#EndSARS: Ekiti state government declares 24-hour curfew
Following the various attacks on #EndSARS protesters in the state, Governor Kayode Fayemi has imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state effective from 10pm on today, Tuesday, October 20.
In a statement released by the Secretary to the State Government, Biodun Oyebanji, the state government said the curfew became necessary following the state government’s observation of how the end SARS protest, which started as a peaceful protest against police brutality by youths in Ekiti State, has been hijacked by some hoodlums.
Read the statement below
1. The Government of Ekiti State has observed with growing concern how the ENDSARS protest, which started as a peaceful protest against police brutality by youths in Ekiti State, has been hijacked by some hoodlums.
2. The hoodlums have capitalised on the ENDSARS protest to rape, assault, rob and extort innocent citizens across the State. These are in addition to the wanton destruction of properties, particularly private properties.
3. Government is concerned that if this state of affairs is allowed to continue unabated, it will lead to a breakdown of law and order thereby threatening the wellbeing of the people of Ekiti State.
4. For the purpose of clarity Government continues to show understanding and responsiveness to the demands of the legitimate protesters.
5. On 16th October 2020, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Governor, Ekiti State met with the protesters in person. While identifying with the legitimacy of their protests, he assured them that the State Government will immediately put measures in place to respond to all their demands.
6. Government has since then constituted a Human Rights Investigation Panel to review all cases of abuse by Officers of the disbanded SARS. In addition, Government has enabled a Victims Compensation Fund to facilitate speedy remedial measures for victims of such abuse.
7. Furthermore, several officials of Government have engaged the protesters at multiple fora and platforms including the social media in order to ensure that concerns of protesters are properly identified and responded to in a prompt and efficient manner with necessary feedback.
8. Government had also at various times drawn the attention of the protesters to the troubling hijack of the protests by individuals whose only interest is to inflict violence on the people of the state.
9. In the past 48 hours there have been incidents of gang-rape, robberies, physical assaults on innocent people, looting and burning of a police station. These acts of brigandage are not in consonance with the legitimate aspirations of the protesters. It cannot be logical to seek to remedy impunity with impunity.
10. Government therefore cannot afford to watch a deliberate enthronement of anarchy by some bad elements who have hijacked the protest for some clandestine reasons.
11. Consequently, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, hereby imposes a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State starting from 10.00 pm tonight, Tuesday, October, 20, 2020.
12. Only essential workers and service providers with valid means of identifications are allowed to move around during the period of the curfew.
13. Any person found on the street that does not belong to this category, would be promptly arrested and prosecuted according to the laws of Ekiti State.
14. We seek the understanding of the good people of Ekiti State as we continue to take deliberate steps towards ensuring that peace and normalcy return to our state.”
Davido speaks on the events of the past 48 hours
Nigerian superstar, Davido has said criminals are responsible for the attack on two Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State.
Davido made the claim while absolving End SARS protesters of involvement in the attacks.
The singer pointed out that no amount of mischief would stop the protest against police brutality and bad governance.
Davido made the remark while condemning the attack on two Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State.
The hoodlums had attacked the facilities and freed some inmates.
Reacting, the singer in a series of tweets wrote: “After seeing all that’s gone on today I just want to say that from the beginning we have preached that the protest must remain peaceful and Law Abiding and as far as I know we have kept to that! And we will continue to keep to that so the narrative can NOT be switched up on us!
“The people they claim broke into prisons to free convicted criminals, burn police stations to steal weapons, damage police, government, and private vehicles are Criminals and everybody must condemn these acts. They are not part of our movement !
“#EndSars is a peaceful and law abiding protest that is going somewhere great! And no mischief can scatter it!”
Address Nigerians over #EndSARS protests – Senate urges Buhari
The Nigerian Senate has called on President Buhari to urgently address the nation so as to douse the tension in the country.
This comes as hoodlums continue to carry out various attacks on #EndSARS protesters and others in some parts of the country.
The Senators made the call for President Buhari to speak to the Nation after a motion was moved by Senator Biodun Olujimi and co-sponsored by all Senators on the ongoing nationwide protests believed to have been hijacked by hoodlums.
Part of the resolution of the Senators after deliberation include:
-Urge all tiers of government to put in place and sustain policies of social economic reforms that raise the standard of lives of our people;
-Call upon the Police to operate strictly in accordance with the rules of engagement appropriate in a democratic environment;
-Urge the Inspector General of Police to ensure a holistic comprehensive reforms of the police to increase the overall welfare including training and medical insurance of all members of the Nigeria Police Force
-Appeal to all Nigerians to resort to use of legal institutions to resolve disputes and conflicts;
-Urge the Nigerian youths and the Nigerian citizens to approach the National Assembly Committees Constitution and Reforms in order to secure far-reaching holistic amendments that are vital to the restructuring of our federation
-Urge the Federal Government to faithfully and comprehensively implement all the five demands of the #EndSARS movement and protesters with necessary timelines to rekindle confidence in government
-Appeal to #EndSARS movement and protesters to kindly in the interest of everyone stop their actions and embrace genuine dialogue; 7. Urge Mr. President to address the nation as soon as possible on these issues.
-Police should make it a duty to accompany protesters and should be involved in protecting genuine protesters.
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