The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has said with the fresh admission by Patience Jonathan that she owns the $5m traced to her accounts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, means the anti-graft agency has the right to probe her.
According to him, if the former first lady is claiming that she owns the money then she must explain how she earned it.
The discovery of the additional amount, in the former first lady’s Skye Bank account, by the EFCC brings to $20m the total amount so far traced to her.
As part of investigations into a money laundering case against a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Jonathan, Waripamowei Dudafa, the EFCC had traced four company accounts to him with a balance of $15m.
The EFCC subsequently charged Dudafa and the four companies with money laundering.
The four companies, whose accounts have since been frozen, are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.
A source at the EFCC said, “While we were investigating Dudafa, we traced the four companies to him. The companies have domiciliary accounts at Skye Bank with a balance of about $15m. So, we obtained a court order and froze the accounts.
“We then traced the directors of the companies who then denied ownership of the accounts. It was later that we were informed that the accounts belonged to Patience Jonathan and that she is the sole signatory to the accounts. She was given a special card which she used in making withdrawals across the world.
“We, therefore, wondered why the accounts were not opened in her name if she had nothing to hide. In fact, we later found out that her personal account, which bears her name, has a balance of $5m. One wonders where a person, who has never held a government position, got the money from. She was not our initial target but she certainly has questions to answer.”
Reacting to the development, Sagay told one of our correspondents on the telephone that the Act establishing the EFCC gave the anti-graft agency the power to investigate anybody who is seen to have more wealth than he ought to have.
The senior advocate wondered how Patience, who was a civil servant and never held any government position, could have billions in her bank accounts.
He said, “The EFCC and ICPC Act have provisions under which they can ask the court to freeze the account of a person if a person’s capacity to earn is below the amount of money that the person appears to have.
“If you are living a lavish lifestyle and it appears you don’t have the means to have acquired the property and the wealth you have, the EFCC is free to probe you.
“If she is claiming the money belongs to her, she has put herself in a position where she must explain how she earned it.”
Attempts to get the comments of the wife of the former president were not successful.
Repeated calls and a text message sent to the Media Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Ikechukwu Eze, were also not responded to as of 8:45pm on Saturday.