Nigeria’s former First Lady, Patience Jonathan, has asserted that Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, a former aide of her husband, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, received instructions to open five bank accounts in her name but instead opened only one. Mrs. Jonathan’s claim is contained in an affidavit sworn to by one Sammie Somiari. Mr. Somiari filed his affidavit in support of a fundamental rights enforcement lawsuit filed by the former First Lady against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In the affidavit, Mr. Somiari testified that Mrs. Jonathan had instructed Mr. Dudafa to help her open five bank accounts, adding that the presidential aide ended up opening only one account in the then First Lady’s name and opened four other accounts in the names of companies linked to Mr. Dudafa.
The four companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Co. Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Development Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.
Mr. Dudafa and the companies are also defendants in the ongoing fundamental rights lawsuit.
According to Mr. Somiari’s affidavit, Mr. Dudafa had on March 22, 2010 brought two Skye Bank officers, Demola Bolodeoku and Dipo Oshodi, to meet Mrs. Jonathan at her residence to discuss the opening of five accounts. The affidavit claimed that Mrs. Jonathan later discovered that Mr. Dudafa opened only one of the accounts in her name while the other four were opened in the names of companies belonging to the presidential aide.
“The applicant (Mrs. Jonathan) complained about this to Honorable 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, Honorable Dudafa brought the said bank manager, Mr. Dipo Oshodi, who purported to have effected the changes. This was about April 2014,” Mr. Somiari’s affidavit claimed.
The affidavit continued: “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(s) despite repeated requests of the applicant.
“Besides, the ATM credit cards bearing the said companies' names were brought to the applicant by Mr. Dipo Oshodi of the 2nd respondent bank, who promised to replace them once the cards bearing the changed names were available, but he never did.
“However, since 2010 up until 2014 and thereafter, the applicant had been using the cards on the said accounts and operating the said accounts without let or hindrance.
“Even in May, June and July 2016, the applicant traveled overseas for medical treatment and was using the said credit cards abroad up until July 7, 2016 or thereabouts when the cards stopped functioning.”
The Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos fixed November 2 for continued hearing of the lawsuit in which Mrs. Jonathan is demanding N200m as damages from the EFCC for barring her from accessing her controversial accounts.
Skye Bank Plc., where the accounts are domiciled, is also joined in the suit. Mrs. Jonathan filed the lawsuit to protest against the ‘No Debit Order’ placed by the EFCC on the accounts of the four companies domiciled in Skye Bank.
In July 2016, the EFCC froze $15.5 million available in the accounts held by the four companies suspected to be fronts for the former First Lady. The anti-corruption agency froze the accounts as part of a broad investigation of Mr. Dudafa for alleged money laundering.
However, there was a dramatic twist in the investigation when Mrs. Jonathan, whose husband served as President from 2010 to 2015, claimed that the funds in the companies’ accounts belonged to her, even though she was not listed as a signatory to any of the accounts.
The controversial ex-First Lady is urging the court to lift the ‘No Debit Order’ placed on the accounts by the EFCC.