A former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman Ibrahim Lamorde advised former First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan on where to save her money, according to former Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr Waripamo-Owei Dudafa.
According to the Nation, Mr Dudafa stated this in a statement on oath he filed before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos in a suit by Mrs Jonathan seeking to unfreeze her accounts with $15.5million.
Mr Dudafa said the multi-million dollars and other currencies belonging to Mrs Jonathan were cash gifts, inheritance and funds she holds in trust for others.
The former aide said his duties as Special Assistant on Domestic Matters to the former President meant he was in charge of household affairs, social events involving the First Family, as well as “meeting the domestic needs of the former president and his wife”.
By virtue of his position, he said he had daily interactions with Mrs Jonathan.
“It was during one of those interactions with the plaintiff that she informed me of the funds belonging to her, which said funds consisted of her personal inheritance and monies which she held in trust for her siblings, as well as gifts from friends and well-wishers over the years,” Mr Dudafa said.
According to the deponent, on several occasions, visitors to the State House brought cash gifts to Mrs Jonathan, and that such gifts were “a continuous and regular feature at the State House during the period I served”.
He said the gifts were brought during social events and holidays such as wedding anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, Sallah and Easter celebrations; launching of non-governmental organisations, among others.
“Several dignitaries from all over the country used to visit the State House and make cash donations and gifts to the then first Lady,” he said.
Mr Dudafa told the court that during the burial of Mrs Jonathan’s mother, Charity Oba, “several individuals, corporate bodies, well-wishers across the country brought so much gifts to the Plaintiff both in cash and materials that are quite substantial.”
He said in a bid to safeguard the funds, Mrs Jonathan sought Mr Lamorde’s advice on the best way to save the monies without violating the Money Laundering Act.
“Consequently, I was then invited to a meeting between myself, the then chairman of the EFCC Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde and the plaintiff at the Presidential villa, where Mr Lamorde advised and recommended that personal and corporate accounts be opened for the purpose of safeguarding the plaintiff’s money to enable her foot her medical bills and other sundry personal needs whenever she travels abroad.
“Sequel to the advice given to the plaintiff by Ibrahim Lamorde, the plaintiff instructed me to coordinate the opening of the accounts for herself and her family members.
“In carrying out the said plaintiff’s instructions, I contacted one Sompre Omeibi, a reputable business man from the private sector to assist in safe guarding the funds.
“Sequel to the directives of Sompre Omiebi, the officials of Skye Bank brought to the plaintiff in my presence five Automated Teller Machine cards (ATM) for her use.
“I got in touch with Sompre Omeibi and the bank and requested that the names on the mandates should be changed to make the Plaintiff the sole signatory.
“Consequently, Mr. Oladipo Oshodi, an official of the bank, got in touch with the plaintiff, pleaded with her to use the cards whilst he would make necessary arrangements to effect the changes as soon as possible.
“I know as a fact that the bank and Dipo Oshodi are fully aware that the sums of money in the said accounts belong solely to the plaintiff.
“I know as a fact that the plaintiff is the owner of the funds contained in the bank accounts of the third, fourth and fifth defendants (companies), notwithstanding the facts that the accounts bear their names,” Dudafa said.
Four companies – Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development And Investment Co. Ltd, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Co. Ltd and Avalon Global Property Development Ltd – through their representatives, had on September 15, 2016 pleaded guilty to laundering the $15.591million when they were arraigned before Justice Babs Kuewumi of the same court.
EFCC is contending that the money is “proceed of crime” and should be forfeited to the Federal Government.
The commission, in its defence to Mrs Jonathan suit, said the former First Lady could not have genuinely earned the $15.5million as “she does not run any business from which she could have earned such huge sums”.
EFCC said its investigations show that the money was allegedly stolen from the Federal Government and its agencies, and that it does not belong to the former First Lady.
“There is no way the plaintiff (Mrs Jonathan) could have genuinely earned the monies. She is the wife of the former president, a civil servant and a retired Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State. She does not run any profit and interest yielding business venture to generate such money.
“Investigation conducted by the first defendant (EFCC) revealed that the plaintiff is not the owner of the funds in the accounts of the third to fifth defendants (companies), which funds were discovered to be proceeds of fraudulent activities of Dudafa,” EFCC said.
Justice Idris adjourned until March 26 for continuation of hearing.
Source: The Nation