PATIENCE JONATHAN NIGERIA’S EX-FIRST LADY RISKS LOSING $15.5M FORTUNE

PATIENCE JONATHAN NIGERIA’S EX-FIRST LADY RISKS LOSING $15.5M FORTUNE

Nigeria’s former First Lady Patience Jonathan risks losing the battle for $15.5 million fortune following latest court’s ruling.

The Federal High Court, Lagos, late Tuesday, dismissed an application by four companies which pleaded guilty to laundering the money belonging to Mrs. Jonathan.

The companies wanted to change their guilty plea at the court presided over by Justice Babs Kuewumi

They are Pluto Property and Investment company limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company limited, Transocean Property and investment company limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.

The companies asked the court to reverse their guilty pleas and nullify the previous proceedings because those who represented them were not authorized to do so.

Pleaded not guilty
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned them with a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr Waripamo Dudafa, a lawyer, Mr Amajuoyi Briggs, who is the companies’ Secretary, and a banker, Mr Adedamola Bolodeoku of the Skye Bank Plc.

Unlike the companies, Dr. Dudafa, Mr. Briggs, and Mr. Bolodeoku pleaded not guilty to the 17-count charge.

The companies’ lawyer, Mr. Mike Ozekhome, told the court that his clients were not given a fair trial before their conviction because they had no legal representation of their choice.

Mr. Ozekhome said he was briefed to represent the companies after its directors pleaded guilty despite not being authorised by the board to do so.

Purported directors

He said they were convicted “In gross violation” of the 1999 Constitution, which he added, occasioned a miscarriage of justice.

Mr. Ozekhome prayed that the trial be done afresh and that the previous proceedings be declared null, void and unsustainable in law.

Besides, Mr. Ozekhome said, the companies were denied the right to cross-examine the purported directors who purportedly pleaded guilty.

But the prosecuting counsel urged the court to refuse the application for being an abuse of its process.

The court ruled against the companies which are proxy outfits of Mrs Jonathan who claimed ownership of the money, controverting the earlier guilty plea of the firms.

MOHAMMED MOMOH / The East African

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