FOUR companies that were fingered in the alleged $15.59 million allegedly belonging to Nigeria’s former First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan, on Thursday, pleaded guilty to the money laundering charges filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The four companies, Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited, all pleaded guilty to all the counts in the amended charge of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering, through their representative, Agbo Michael, Friday Davis and Kola Fredrick.
But the alleged company directors, when first arraigned before Justice AbdulAziz Anka, denied having any link with the companies, claiming they did not know when their passport photographs and signatures were used to register the companies.
However, the three companies stated that they were not confident that the people that appeared before the court were their real representatives.
Former aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, and the two others pleaded not guilty while the fourth to seventh defendants, whose authenticity as the true representatives of the company was being challenged, pleaded guilty and admitted culpability before the court.
Also, former First Lady, Mrs Jonathan, picked holes in the authenticity of the representatives of the four companies who pleaded guilty to charges bordering on money laundering before Justice Babs Kuewumi of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
The first, second and third defendants told the court through their counsel that their clients were challenging the validity of the representatives of Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited on the basis that they failed to produce a letter of authority to represent the companies as required under Section 477 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
The EFCC has since frozen the companies’ accounts with Skye Bank, while Mrs Jonathan had sued the commission and the bank, laying claims to the accounts.
The former First Lady, through her media aide, Chima Osuji, further alleged that the EFCC presented four unknown people as representatives of the companies, all of who did not show letters authorising them by their respective boards to represent them in the case.
“This is a clear evidence of the desperation of the prosecution to pull down the former First Lady and confiscate her hard-earned money.
“It is an irony. It was the former First Lady who went to court for the repatriation of her confiscated money when she realised that the EFCC and its co-travellers were playing politics with this issue, after she had come out publicly to say that the said money belongs to her and that she has all evidence to prove the sources of her money.
“Up till this very moment, EFCC has refused to interrogate or invite her for questioning. The biggest twist in court on Thursday was that the fourth to seventh defendants pleaded guilty to all the 15-count charges. It is clear that these unknown faces were agents of the EFCC, who have been stage-managed and tutored to come to court to complicate the case as a strategy to confiscate her money,” he stated.
Osuji reiterated the respect of his boss for the sanctity and integrity of the judiciary as the bastion of hope for every citizen of the country, but expressed disappointment that Mrs Jonathan’s well-earned image was being maligned in the court of public opinion through the “tissues of lies being churned out by the EFCC in respect of the matter.”
According to him, “Mrs Jonathan is not a director, shareholder, promoter and/or participant in any of the four companies now under trial, and that she was the sole signatory to all the said accounts, contrary to the fabrication that she used her driver and cook as proxies.”
He concluded that Mrs Jonathan had denied ever receiving any money from any unknown sources into her accounts, adding that the accounts were opened in order to facilitate her travel overseas particularly for medical treatment, sundry purchase for herself and her late mother, Mrs Charity Oba (Mama Sisi).