Ex-Nige­rian First Lady claims $31.5m frozen ac­counts

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/worldwide -

LAGOS — Former Nige­rian first lady Pa­tience Jonathan is claim­ing own­er­ship of bank ac­counts al­legedly worth $31.5 mil­lion that have been frozen in a cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion, prompt­ing anti-cor­rup­tion groups to de­mand her pros­e­cu­tion.

The wife of former pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan filed suit ask­ing the Fed­eral High Court in Lagos to un­freeze five US dol­lar ac­counts at Nige­ria’s Skye Bank. They were frozen by the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion in July.

Sep­a­rately, her lawyer sent a let­ter to the com­mis­sion say­ing $15 mil­lion of the money was a gov­ern­ment pay­ment for med­i­cal bills she in­curred in Lon­don in 2013.

Nige­ri­ans have taken to so­cial me­dia to de­ride that claim, ask­ing if she planned to heal the en­tire world or was buy­ing eter­nal life. But some ac­cused the anti-graft com­mis­sion of sub­ject­ing her and oth­ers to “trial by me­dia”.

The com­mis­sion has de­tained hun­dreds of peo­ple in a year- long in­ves­ti­ga­tion of tens of bil­lions of dol­lars miss­ing from the state trea­sury that has not pro­duced any suc­cess­ful prose­cu­tions.

The com­mis­sion did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment on the law­suit and let­ter, which were dated last week and ob­tained by AP.

Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan left of­fice in May 2015 af­ter be­ing voted out.

Nige­ria’s So­cio-Eco­nomic Rights and Ac­count­abil­ity Project, a civil so­ci­ety group, de­manded that the at­tor­ney gen­eral im­me­di­ately un­der­take crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against the former first lady.

Nige­rian me­dia quoted uniden­ti­fied anti-cor­rup­tion com­mis­sion of­fi­cers as say­ing all but one of the frozen ac­counts were set up in the names of do­mes­tic work­ers, though the former first lady was the sole sig­na­tory.

A former se­nior pres­i­den­tial aide, a lawyer and a bank of­fi­cial are among peo­ple named in the cor­rup­tion case that al­leges graft and money laun­der­ing. — AFP

Pa­tience Jonathan

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