BY ADEBIYI ADEDAPO
The House of Representatives committee on Public Petition has summoned the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian Police Force, and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) over an alleged harassment of the immediate past fist lady, Dame Patience Jonathan and her relations.
The committee also directed the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to furnish it with identities of informants who gave tip-off leading to a raid on a property belonging to Jonathan and her relations.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Nkem Abonta who noticed that EFCC and other invited agencies were absent at the hearing said; “Even now we have issued a summon that was not honoured, we know what to do.”
However, the NDLEA represented by a Director in the Agency, Mr. Femi Oloruntoba informed the lawmakers that his agency got a tip-off from an unnamed source to the effect that the property located at Igbeti Rock Street Maitama Abuja was being used for drug related activities.
“Based on the information, 8 officers of my agency visited the premises, after surveillance was conducted on the premises. It is not true that 50 officers from my agency visited the premises”.
According to Oloruntoba, the officer who met two occupants of the premises provided them with a search endorsement form which they endorsed indicating that the search was conducted without any damage to the property or any loss of items.
Asked on how the agency remedies a situation where it breaks into a premises as alleged and did not find any exhibit, having inflicted structural damages on the property, he said the agency never knew that the premises belonged to the former first lady, adding that a letter was written by a solicitor on behalf of a man who claimed to be the owner of the premises.
The man who said NDLEA can by law raid premises using identity cards as warrant also added that even the letter did not suggest illegality of the raid, but rather enquired if the search was a lawful exercise.
The committee therefore demanded that the NDLEA provides it with the identity of the said source before the next adjourned date.
The legal team from Granville Abibo (SAN) & Co led by Sammie Somiari – who petitioned the House on behalf of Mrs Jonathan had earlier told the committee that the team would adopt the initial petition as their brief in the matter, adding that additional documents were available to substantiate whatever they have raised in the petition.
He said the respondents which include the aforementioned agencies have engaged in un-wanton attacks on the person of dame patience Jonathan the immediate past first lady.
He cited different media reports and newspaper headlines as pointers to the allegation of attacks on their client.
He said “The EFCC has serially orchestrated a design to freeze the personal accounts of Mrs Jonathan, her siblings and other relations and associates”
He said a case in point is one Aridolf Jo Resort Wellness and Spa Ltd off Okota Estate and Finchley Top Homes Limited which were all shut down without any justifiable reason by the EFCC with their accounts frozen.
The committee therefore asked it’s secretariat to send reminders to all agencies joined in the case that are yet to show appearance to provide documents regarding their role in the matter as well as appear for hearing on the next adjourned date of September 19.