Hundreds of Igbo youths took to the streets yesterday, protesting the on-going probe of former Nigeria First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
The youths, led by the coordinator, Concerned Igbo Youths, Comrade Victor Ezenagu, said the probe, which had culminated to the freezing of her (Mrs. Jonathan) account, is as a calculated plot to humiliate ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
They moved straight to the Enugu office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, where they submitted a petition to the South-East zonal head of the commission, Mr. Johnson Babalola.
In the petition titled: “Unjust Persecution and Desperate Plan to Humiliate former President Goodluck Jonathan,” the groups demanded un-freezing of Mrs. Jonathan’s account.
The youths said ”while we salute the commitment of the present administration towards fighting corruption in the country, we, however, express our disaffection to the manner the war is being prosecuted by the commission under your watch. Some of the actions of the commission in recent time leaves no one in doubt that certain persons have clearly being singled out to be humiliated.
“A case in point is that of former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, who is currently being prosecuted by the EFCC. We see the freezing of her personal account and on-going prosecution as an attempt to discredit former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“It is quite condemnable that having sacrificed his ambition for the sake of Nigeria’s future, Jonathan’s family is being visited with such cruelty from the commission. We say this because Mrs. Jonathan is not the first person to have occupied the office of First Lady in Nigeria. Yet, none of the other former occupants of that office is under probe, let alone trial.
“Following from the above, it is also not out of place to state that the current administration is indirectly prosecuting and persecuting Jonathan. But to unleash such an action on a man who willingly conceded defeat, even when he was being urged to fight on, has grave implications.
They stressed that while they were not against the anti-graft war, “it should be done within the ambit of the law. It is not proper for the anti-graft agency to unleash itself on the family of former president Jonathan and freeze their account over mere allegations.”
“We are sending a clear message that this unjust persecution, under whatever guise, will not be tolerated against a family that sacrificed so much for this country.
“We demand that the right thing should be done to avoid creating unnecessary tension in the Southern region over this situation.
“Already some militant groups have been placing this as one of their key demands. As such, we believe that the commission would do the needful and stop this seeming well orchestrated campaign against Jonathan.
“May we also state that this idea of always treating Ndigbo as second fiddle should stop. Mrs. Jonathan is our own and we are not ready to allow her being dragged to the mud just for coming from this part of the world. It is very clear that she is being victimized simply because she is one of us.
“The Igbo youths are, therefore, demanding that every action against her should be suspended as we are ready to take this mass action higher if our demands are not met. We say unequivocally that ‘Enough is Enough’.
Responding, Babalola said the matter was already before the court and charged the youths to redirect their protest to the appropriate quarters.
He urged the youths to partner with the commission to rid the country of corruption, stressing “the EFCC is not witch-hunting the former first family or anybody, else as you said in your petition; the commission is only trying to rescue the nation; what we are doing is in the interest of the nation.”