Patience Jonathan sues SERAP, says $15m is gift

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Dame Patience Jonathan

Ramon Oladimeji

Wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience,
has urged a Federal High Court in Lagos to
restrain a human rights organisation, Socio-
Economic Rights and Accountability Project,
from
coercing the Attorney General of the Federation to
prosecute her over “unfounded and malicious
allegations that she stole $15m.”
Patience claimed that the $15m over which SERAP
allegedly asked the AGF to prosecute her was a gift
she received over the last 15 years from friends
and well-wishers.
The Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo
Mumuni, said in a statement on Thursday that the
organisation had been served with court papers in
Patience’s suit marked, FHC/L/CS/1349/2016.

According to Mumuni, the suit was filed by
members of the Union of Niger Delta Youth
Organisation for Equity, Justice and Good
Governance on behalf of themselves and Patience.
The plaintiffs sought a court order of interim
injunction restraining SERAP from using any
judicial process to coerce the Attorney General of
the Federation and Minister of Justice to prosecute
Patience for “owning legitimate private property.”
The plaintiffs also urged the court to restrain
SERAP from “taking any further steps in further
vilification, condemnation and conviction of the
former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, in all
public media.”
In the affidavit filed in support of the suit, the
plaintiffs accused SERAP of engaging in a
campaign of calumny against Patience.
The plaintiffs averred, “There has been a running
battle between the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission and Mrs. Jonathan with respect to the
release of her legitimately earned funds, which
were deposited in accounts opened in the names
of certain companies by one of her husband’s
aides without her authorisation.
“The funds in question were legitimate gifts from
her friends and well-wishers over the last 15 years
which she had been saving in order to utilise to
upgrade family businesses and concerns which
had been somewhat dormant by reasons of the
long period of her husband service as a public
officer in Nigeria.
“The gifts were given in small contributions by
several persons, some of whom she cannot even
now recall over this period of 15 years sometimes
in as small a gift as N250,000.
“In order to preserve the value of these funds,
which she did not require for any purpose at the
time, she changed them into foreign exchange and
kept them as cash for a long period in her home
safe in Port Harcourt and Abuja.
“It was when the family home in Otuoke was burnt
down by hoodlums under the instigation of
political adversaries in 2010 that she began to
think about banking these gifts, which had now
grown to large sums in the United States dollars.
“In 2010 she therefore summoned one of her
husband’s domestic aids, Waripamo-Owei
Emmanuel Dudafa, to assist her in opening bank
accounts into which the funds could be deposited.
“Unknown to her, the said Dudafa, in a bid to be
discreet about the owner of the funds, decided to
bank the funds in the names of companies owned
by him.
“When she discovered this, she was constrained to
continue with the names of the companies when
she was advised that it did not make any
difference as to the ownership of the funds since
the director of the company would appoint her as
sole signatory to the accounts in question.”

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