By ADEBIYI ADEDAPO, Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions Tuesday urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to identify accounts belonging to former First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan which are currently under litigation before the courts.
The committee also urged the commission to allow the former first lady access her accounts which are not under litigation. Adding that securing an interim order to freeze her account without taking further legal action amount to corruption.
Chairman of the committee, Hon Nkem Abonta enjoined the EFCC to be transparent in its fight against corruption so as to secure public confidence.
“Delaying a matter for two years is also corruption, are you now making money for the banks and make them smile?
You have to be transparent enough so that your prosecution will not turn to persecution,” he stated.
Counsel to EFCC, Mr. Ojogbane Johnson had explained that it was difficult to investigate fraud cases and money laundering in Nigeria.
Ojogbane maintained that reasons behind the commission’s decision to keep the accounts frozen was because they are still under investigation.
He said such ongoing investigation is why the commission appealed against court rulings directing that it de-freezes those accounts.
Asked if the Commission lacks the competence and capacity to handle such investigations, he said that was far from being the case, adding that it’s always very difficult to follow the money and know it’s origin and final destination.
“It takes time to get to the root of where the monies came from and where they went”, he told the committee, urging that more details should be avoided so as not to run the risk of subjudice.
The lawyer to Patience Jonathan told the committee that the commission’s position that some of the matters are in appeal was incorrect.
He said: “The matter before Justice Olaturogun federal High Court In Lagos was challenged and when we filed our submission, they failed to respond and the matter was withdrawn by the judge. And the account was de-frozen”.
“After that, they made appeal against that ruling which they withdrew three days later in the same court.
“And when we found out that there were ultra vires in section 17 of their submission, we went on appeal.
“Based on the order granted by Justice Olaturogun after the EFCC failed to prove the culpability of the accounts, they filed another appeal before justice Binta Inyako”, he submitted.