Patience Jonathan’s Billions Split Nigerians As Right Activists, Lawyers Share Their Thoughts
News made major headlines on Friday, September 10, that former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, claimed ownership of the $31.4 million involved in an alleged fraud case before a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The EFCC had taken former presidential aide, Amajuoyi Azubike Briggs, former Skye Bank official, Damola Bolodeoku, Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited to court in an alleged $31.4 million fraud involving the companies without addresses.
Former president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba believes the anti-graft war can be better prosecuted. “I do not want to comment on that but the anti-corruption war can be better,” said Agbakoba.
Human rights activist, Yinka Odumakin, said it would bode well if the Econimic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) challenge those perceived to be corrupt with facts rather than going public with them on the pages of newspapers.
“The system of media trial by the EFCC is not the right thing. The anti-graft body should finish with their thorough investigation before making it known to the public.
“The public has been made to know that they have been recovering money. In the case of Patience Jonathan, if the EFCC has its facts, it should come with it.
“Let it do its investigative job thoroughly and come out with its facts.They need to do proper investigation before this media orchestration. This is because we have heard this kind of thing before and that all kinds of money were returned. I feel that in fighting the anti-corruption war, the EFCC should ensure that it carries out a thorough investigation and come out with concrete evidence before making their findings public.
“The agency is not supposed to prejudice the public’s mind before prosecuting the person. They should be sure of what they are doing so that the truth can come out and the public would now know what to believe. People are now hearing all kinds of fallacious things and people are finding it difficult to believe everything they hear from the agency,” he told Daily Sun.
Constitutional lawyer, Fred Agbaje, last night defended the clampdown on the account of former First Lady but insisted on due process. He said that the Act establishing the anti-corruption agency empowered it to seek the freezing of account of individuals perceived to be involved in money laundering.
“Section 3 of the Act establishing the EFCC empowered it to take action if they feel that the signatory to the account wasn’t entitled to such an amount.”
He, however, noted that the EFCC “ must go to court to seek a judicial temporary order to freeze such an account. “It is to prevent the account from being depleted. So, they must act, pro actively.”
The constitutional lawyer recalled that similar action was taken against the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose.
Agbaje cautioned that the anti-corruption agency must mandatorily seek judicial action before freezing account of any suspect. “They must seek a court order, because we are under a democracy and under rule of law. They can be sued for damages if due process wasn’t followed.”