The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has traced a magnificient architectural edifice of an uncompleted eight-storey building in Abuja to be allegedly owned by wife of former president of Nigeria, Patience Jonathan.
The building, which is valued at N6billion, is located within the Central Business District, between the National Mosque and the Federal Secretariat.
It was alleged that the property was bought through her foundation known as Aribawa Aurera Reach Out Foundation.
In a document, which has been attached to a court application, the anti-graft agency said it had written to the Corporate Affairs Commission to get the identities of the directors of the foundation who are believed to be fronts for Patience.
The commission further stated that it had written to the Abuja Geographical Information System to get the history of the property and how and when it was bought.
The anti-graft agency has also written eight banks: Skye Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, Union Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, United Bank for Africa and Unity Bank.
Recall that the EFCC had frozen tan account belonging to the Aribawa Aurera Reach Out Foundation with account number 1222014221 in Ecobank with a balance of N479m.
The document read, “Plot 1350 Cadastral Zone A00 CBD which was allocated to Ariwabai Aurera Reach Out Foundation in 2010 and Certificate of Occupancy issued in 2011. The plot bears an eight-storey building still under construction.
“Inference may be drawn from investigation that the suspect’s (Patience) last known official position was permanent secretary in Bayelsa State. Hence, there is no way such magnificent architectural edifices could have been built within a short space of time.
“There is a high probability that it could have been built with the proceeds of crime. It is evidently clear that it is a case of money laundering but there is a need to do more investigation.”
The commission had also sealed a five-storey hotel, belonging to Patience, believed to be worth about N3bn located near Setraco Construction Company beside Mabushi Kado Expressway.
The property, which has not been officially opened, has between 50 to 100 rooms, a gymnasium, a fountain and other amenities.
Patience has been under probe since May 2016 when the commission arrested a former Special Adviser to the President on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa.
Patience laid claim to about $15m found in bank accounts allegedly belonging to Dudafa’s domestic servants.
She later sued Skye Bank Plc and the EFCC after which the commission, through a court order, froze her personal account with a balance of $5m.
However, in the case of the alleged N2bn hotel, the Anti-graft agency, it was learned, had proceeded to court to obtain an interim forfeiture order for the hotel and a N6bn plaza.
The document read in part, “In view of the foregoing, I request for an interim forfeiture order on the two properties amongst others linked to the suspect and believed to have been acquired from the proceeds of crime.
“This is particularly very important because attempts to mark the properties were resisted and even the portion that was successfully marked was later cleaned off by the agents of the suspect.”
In a similar development, the anti-graft agency has also traced three other properties in Abuja to Patience in Karsana, Wasa and Idogwari areas of the Federal Capital Territory.
According to documents from AGIS, the three properties were bought in the names of two companies – Finchley Top Homes Ltd. and AM-PM Network Limited.
The bank accounts of Finchley Top Homes Limited, which have been traced to Patience, were frozen by the commission a few months ago.
The accounts include: Account number 1102001996 in Ecobank, with a balance of N226,376,700.23 and a fixed deposit of N1,099,511,484.88; a Skye Bank account numbered 1771731336, with a balance of N14,173,848.85; Fidelity Bank account numbered, 4011019539 with a balance of N1,800,494,000; Stanbic Bank account numbered, 0016901361, with a balance of N40,594,12.88; and Diamond Bank account 0019213687 with a balance of N39,418,712.12.
In his reaction, Patience’s lawyer, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), said he was not aware of the fresh attempt to seize more of his client’s properties.
He, however, said it was sad that the former first lady had become a victim of a witch-hunt.
Adedipe said her client had dragged the EFCC to the Court of Appeal over the freezing of Mrs. Jonathan’s account while a harassment suit had been filed against the anti-graft agency before a Federal High Court.
The senior advocate said, “I am not aware of any of these but we are in court over the freezing of her accounts and that case is at the Court of Appeal level and we have a fundamental human rights case against them in court.
“My thinking is that the EFCC, which says nobody is above the law, should have waited for the judiciary to finish its process. In my humble opinion, it appears they are abusing judicial powers. When you file something today, tomorrow you file another. Why not put everything in one pot? That is why they lose cases.
“Why are they focusing on Mrs. Jonathan who was neither a minister nor a government official? I’m not saying people should steal but it may seem she is being persecuted wrongly”.
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