Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given a 7 days ultimatum to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami to prosecute wife of former President, Mrs Dame Patience Jonathan over $15m wealth frozen in four companies’ accounts.
The organization this morning stated that Mr Malami should “take this step within 7 days of the receipt of its letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty in this matter.”
SERAP urged the AGF to use his good offices as a defender of public interest, and exercise his powers under Section 174(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), to urgently institute and undertake criminal proceedings against Mrs Dame Patience Jonathan over $15m unexplained wealth frozen in four companies’ accounts.”
The letter reads in part: “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.”
“In the event that she is not able to justify, explain or put forth evidence demonstrating the legitimate origin of the $15m, SERAP urges you to take immediate steps to forfeit the asset under appropriate legal proceedings, and to institute criminal prosecution for unexplained wealth in the matter.”
“Similarly, section 44 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act criminalises unexplained or illicit wealth and allows criminal penalties and forfeiture if in the course of an investigation there are reasonable grounds to believe that a corruption offence has been committed, that is, the failure to explain the origin of the $15m given present or past emoluments, and other relevant circumstances.”
SERAP said that “Mrs Jonathan has admitted that the four accounts belong to her and that she is the sole signatory to these accounts. The four accounts in which Mrs Jonathan’s $15m was lodged are said to belong to the following companies: Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited. Mrs Jonathan was given a platinum card and exclusive access to the accounts.”
“According to reports, a houseboy, a driver and other domestic workers of a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamowei Dudafa, were named as directors.”
Pursuing prosecution in this case, according to SERAP, would help to provide adequate reparation, which may take the form of restitution, compensation, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition to victims of corruption who continue to be denied their right to an effective remedy.
“It would also send a clear message that cases of unexplained wealth or illicit enrichment involving politically exposed persons would not go unpunished,” SERAP said.