Court fixes date for hearing on ex-First Lady’s demand for N200m as damages

The Federal High Court sitting in Ikeja Lagos State on Wednesday fixed October 16 to hear a suit by former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mrs. Jonathan is challenging a “no-debit-order” placed on her account by the anti-graft agency.

Justice Aneke chukwujekwu took over the case from Justice Mohammed Idris, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal.

The case came up for mention on Wednesday, with parties’ counsel giving assurances that all amendments would have been filed and served before the hearing date.

EFCC, Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank) and three companies: Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd and Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd are other respondents.

Mrs. Jonathan, in the suit filed in 2016, is demanding N200 million damages.

She prayed the court to compel EFCC to immediately remove the “no debit order” placed on her accounts with $9.8 million.

According to the First Lady’s aide, Sammie Somiari, a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, helped Mrs Jonathan to open the accounts.

Somiari said Mrs Jonathan was the sole signatory, and that Dudafa opened only one of the accounts in her name while the others were in the companies’.

She said in an affidavit that Mrs Jonathan operated the accounts with debit cards until EFCC placed the “no-deposit order”.

However, EFCC has said Mrs Jonathan does not run any business from which she could have earned such huge sums, being the wife of the former president, a civil servant and a retired Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State.

“Investigation conducted by the first defendant (EFCC) revealed that the plaintiff is not the owner of the funds in the accounts of the third to fifth defendants (companies), which funds were discovered to be proceeds of fraudulent activities of Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa,” EFCC said.

The commission said between 2013 and 2015, “huge sums of money were stolen from the Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies.”

The agencies, it said, include the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).