SERAP to FG: Prosecute Patience Jonathan now over $15m unexplained wealth

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to “use your good offices as a defender of public interest, and exercise your powers under Section 174(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), to urgently institute and undertake criminal proceedings against Dame Patience Jonathan over $15million unexplained wealth frozen in four companies’ accounts.”

The organisation asked Mr Malami to “take this step within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty in this matter.”

The letter, dated September 13, 2016 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, argued that “Mrs Jonathan is a politically exposed person under anticorruption standards. She is also covered under the definition of ‘public officials’ contained in the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party. Under article 2 of the convention, public officials include Mrs Jonathan or any other family members of the former President Goodluck Jonathan who exercised official duties while he was president.”

The letter read in part: “According to article 2 “for the purpose of some specific measures contained in chapter II of this Convention, “public official” may mean any person who performs a public function or provides a public service.”

“Thus, article 2 makes it very clear that any person, such as Mrs Jonathan performing a public function, entrusted with a public task or to whom public functions have been assigned is a public official, regardless of whether he has been elected or appointed, paid or unpaid.”

“In this context, it is the character of the duties performed by Mrs Jonathan while her husband was president that is the overriding consideration as she held a position of trust by virtue of performing public functions or services. In addition, such public duties or services by her are expected to be performed in good faith.”

“Under article 20 of the convention, this government has an obligation to prosecute intentional illicit enrichment, that is, a significant increase in the assets of a public official that he or she cannot reasonably explain in relation to his or her lawful income.”

“The fact that the $15m found in the four accounts belong to Mrs Jonathan raises serious suspicion or at the very least a prima-facie case of unexplained wealth/illicit enrichment, and imposes an obligation on Mrs Jonathan to explain and justify the source(s) of the $15m.”