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Can we begrudge Patience Jonathan the $5.9m in Skye Bank?

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday April 25 withdrew its application for stay of execution of the court order which unfroze former first lady Patience Jonathan’s $5.9m account with Skye Bank.

Irate Nigerian tongues have been wagging since a court ruled that she can have her cash. Folks say it was ill-gotten wealth and she shouldn’t have it. But can we really begrudge the funniest and most peculiar first lady Nigeria has ever had her stash?

Let’s not forget Patience Jonathan had no constitutional office as first lady and wasn’t accused of any fraud while she was made a public servant in her home state. Technically speaking therefore, she couldn’t be charged with public stealing.

When one thinks that the $5.9m was found in only one bank account and she might have even bigger sums stashed in several other bank accounts, it is painful and mind-boggling. But we must suck it as a nation. The law says Patience Jonathan is free to spend her stash!

Approaching the Federal High Court in Lagos which had on April 6 unfroze the account of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, stated that the anti-graft agency has changed its mind about appealing the unfreezing order.

He then told the presiding judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, that the EFCC was withdrawing its application that had sought to stay the execution of the order.

In his response, the lawyer to Patience, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe, confirmed being served with the application by the commission to withdraw its application for stay of proceedings.

He stated that in view of the action of the EFCC, he would equally withdraw the Form 48 and Form 49 he filed to cite Skye Bank for contempt of court for not allowing Patience access to her account in spite of the court order.

The presiding judge, after listening to both parties, granted the prayers of both the EFCC and Adedipe to withdraw their respective applications.

With the development, the coast is now clear for the former first lady to have access to her account with Skye Bank Plc, where she lodged $5. 842, 316. 66.

Recall that last year, Justice Olatoregun had at the instance of the EFCC made an interim order freezing multiple accounts linked to Patience Jonathan.

The order was pursuant to an ex parte application by the EFCC, wherein one of its operatives, Abdulahi Tukur, told the judge that the funds retained in the said accounts were suspected proceeds of crime.

Were he alive today, rightly or wrongly, Afro music maestro Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would have tagged this paddy-paddy government. Thumbs down for EFCC, you might say. But again, can EFCC win all fights? No! But let them just win some great battles in court against the greatest looters. Otherwise, I would say they are taking us for fools.


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