Waripamo Dudafa, former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to ex- President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that the foreign currencies he paid into bank accounts of the wife of former Nigerian leader were either given to him by Mrs Jonathan herself or the husband.
Testifying during a hearing on a suit filed by Mrs. Patience Jonathan, Mr. Dudafa said he merely carried out instructions.
The former First Lady had sued the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the freezing of her accounts with Skye Bank with credit balance of $15.591million.
She is praying the court to give order for the unfreezing of the accounts.
When the hearing of the suit resumed on Tuesday, Justice Mohammed Idris directed parties to give oral evidence on the ownership of the funds in the frozen accounts.
Mr. Dudafa, while being cross-examined by EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, after adopting his witness statement on oath, said he only complied with instructions given by either the President or his wife on deposits of money into the accounts or conversion of foreign currencies into naira.
Mr. Oyedepo: Do you know Festus Iyoha and Peter Arivim?
Mr. Dudafa: Iyoha was a steward attached to the President and Commander-in-Chief. I also know Peter Arivim. He was also a steward attached to President Jonathan.”
Mr. Oyedepo: You gave them hard currencies to take to a Bureau De Change operator, Abubakar Murtala?
Mr. Dudafa: It was not limited to Iyoha and Peter. I don’t have power to instruct anyone. I could only relay the instruction of the President or his wife to any available aide, including Festus and Peter.
Mr. Oyedepo insisted that it was Mr. Dudafa who instructed the aides to convert the money.
Mr Dudafa: “I relayed different instructions from the President or his wife.”
Mr. Oyedepo: I put it to you that you gave dollars to Mr. Murtala?
Mr. Dudafa: So many times, the President and his wife gave me instructions to hand over the dollars.
When Mr. Oyedepo suggested to Mr. Dudafa that he was the one who personally handed the dollars to the aides, the witness agreed.
“The physical handing over was done by me although I received instructions from the President or his wife,” he said.
Mr. Oyedepo: I put it to you that $1million and other amounts were given to you?
Mr. Dudafa responded: I don’t know if it was $1million.
Asked if he was in constant contact with the BDC operator, the witness answered in the affirmative.
Further exchange between Mr. Oyedepo and Mr. Dudafa went thus:
Mr. Oyedepo: The plaintiff was a Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State?
Mr. Dudafa: I don’t know.
Mr. Oyedepo: When were you appointed?
Mr. Dudafa: I was appointed February 2012.
Mr. Oyedepo: The appointment of the plaintiff (Mrs Jonathan) as Permanent Secretary was confirmed on 20 July, 2012?
Dudafa: I don’t know. It’s not part of my duties.
Mr. Oyedepo: I put it to you that the plaintiff stopped drawing salary from Bayelsa State on 12th of May 2015?
Mr. Dudafa: I don’t know.
Skye Bank, Mr. Dudafa, Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd and Avalon Global Property Development Ltd are the other respondents in the suit.
Meanwhile, the supporters of the former First Lady took over the premises of the court as it is their usual habit anytime the case comes up for hearing.
The leader of the women, Mrs. Kate Onchere, told journalists that her principal never wrote to negotiate a plea bargaining arrangement with EFCC, contrary to recent media reports.