She did the kick-off in her usual character. She dared the dreaded Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). She drew it out for a battle by literally calling it a thief. She practically turned the table against the anti-graft body.
It was a strange challenge and it caught the EFCC pants down. To the ex-First Lady, Patience Ibifaka Jonathan, she is not doing anything weird or extraordinary. She is just living her normal life, doing what she knows how to do best.
What is at stake is huge. We all agree it cannot be easily forgone and forgotten. A whopping N6.3billion! That is even by our crude and rough estimate. We are not looking at the property side of the contention.
That is the staggering amount Mrs. Jonathan alleged the EFCC wanted to steal from her by proxy. She claimed the commission was using mercenaries to plead guilty on her behalf in court.
This revelation was thrown up during the trial of one Waripamowei Dudafa, an aide to her husband, while they held sway at the Presidential Villa.
It was during this period, EFCC claimed, that this amount was laundered in four companies said to belong to Patience. So, at the Federal High Court, Lagos, supposed staff of the companies pleaded guilty to the money laundering charges.
But, Patience kicked with all the strength in her. She insisted those who pleaded guilty are nothing, but mercenaries being used by EFCC to steal her hard-earned money. Listen to her mouthpiece, Chima Osuji, courtesy Daily Sun, Friday, September 16, 2016:
“This is a clear evidence of the desperation of the prosecution to pull down the former First Lady and confiscate her hard-earned money.” He did not stop at that:
“It is an irony. It was the former First Lady who went to court for the repatriation of her confiscated money when she realised that the EFCC and its co-travellers were playing politics with this issue after she had come out publicly to say that the said money belongs to her and that she has all evidence to prove the sources of her money. Up till this very moment (Thursday, September 15, 2016), EFCC has refused to interrogate or invite her for questioning.”
He then alleged on his principal’s behalf: “The biggest twist in court was that the fourth to seventh defendants pleaded guilty to all the 15-count charge. It is clear that these unknown faces were agents of the EFCC, who have been stage-managed and tutored to come to court to complicate the case as a strategy to confiscate her money.”
Osuji swore: “Mrs. Jonathan is not a director, shareholder, promoter and/or participant in any of the four companies now under trial.” He insisted she never used her driver and cook as proxies. To all this, EFCC simply chose to keep mum, very curious.
This spurred Patience to take the next step. She drew her courage from EFCC’s silence. So? On Monday, she sent her lawyers after EFCC. Again, Daily Sun, Tuesday, September 20, 2016, came handy:
“We urge the EFCC to de-freeze our client’s (Patience) accounts within 14 days from September 18, 2016, and tender a public apology to her.” Should the EFCC take the risk to defy Patience Jonathan, this is what will happen. The lawyers would choose to internationalise the matter:
“We shall file an action at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights at The Gambia demanding N5billion in exemplary and punitive damages.”
To that, a senior EFCC official, who declined to be named, retorted: “What do you want us to say again? The case is already in court. So, we have no comment.” Clearly, the anti-graft body is avoiding collision with Patience, and it is understandable.
But this is a humorous and odd sarcasm. It is more or less a mockery. We had it last a long time ago. We thought we had passed this absurd stage. Those Patience Jonathan’s days were very hilarious. The time almost everything was trivialised.
When she barged on us last week, it brought back those old and queer memories. Very amazing and amusing. Laying claims to that money is ridiculous and laughable. It is the height of insensitivity. Do you blame her?
That is what all the so-called first ladies do. And they go about it with the greatest impunity. They flaunt it anytime, anywhere and anyhow. They are all the same at the federal, state and local government levels.
All of them are guilty, whether as first lady or wife of the president or wife of the governor. They all make use of the public funds to run their personalised pet projects. Sadly enough, these projects die as soon as they leave “office.”
They are all culpable of this, no exception. The list is growing; Stella Obasanjo did it. So also Turai Yar’Adua and Patience Jonathan. And Aishat Buhari is doing it. There is no change, even if she chooses to be Wife of the President. It is a matter of semantics. The nomenclature is essentially the same.
The money they use to run their illegal offices are public funds. In the process of executing their unconstitutional projects, they convert the money to personal funds. That is why Patience could boldly lay claim to it as her “hard earned” money. What audacity!
The Constitution has wisely refused to provide for the Office of First Lady or Wife of the President. Whatever is done through that process is criminal and should be treated as such.
Forget the character involved. Patience is a victim today, it could be anybody tomorrow. A spade forever remains a spade, whether we want to call it so or not.
That first lady never existed anywhere by law. Therefore, its actions and inactions are nullity. They should stop insulting our collective intelligence.