Former First Lady, Patience Jonathan, has said that $15m found in her Skye Bank account was an accumulation of cash gifts she received over the last 15 years.
Mrs. Jonathan’s explanation was contained in a statement the Executive Director of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni released on Thursday in which he said on-behalf of the ex-first lady, the Union of Niger Delta Youth Organisation for Equity, Justice and Good Governance sued the NGO.
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He said in the suit. she urged a Federal High Court in Lagos to restrain SERAP from coercing the Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute her over the money, which the NGO claimed she “stole”.
According to Mumini, Mrs. Jonathan in her statement of claim averred that, “The funds in question were legitimate gifts from her friends and well-wishers over the last 15 years which she had been saving in order to utilise to upgrade family businesses and concerns which had been somewhat dormant by reasons of the long period of her husband service as a public officer in Nigeria.
“The gifts were given in small contributions by several persons, some of whom she cannot even now recall over this period of 15 years sometimes in as small a gift as N250,000.
“In order to preserve the value of these funds, which she did not require for any purpose at the time, she changed them into foreign exchange and kept them as cash for a long period in her home safe in Port Harcourt and Abuja.
“It was when the family home in Otuoke was burnt down by hoodlums under the instigation of political adversaries in 2010 that she began to think about banking these gifts, which had now grown to large sums in the United States dollars.
“In 2010 she therefore summoned one of her husband’s domestic aids, Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, to assist her in opening bank accounts into which the funds could be deposited.
“Unknown to her, the said Dudafa, in a bid to be discreet about the owner of the funds, decided to bank the funds in the names of companies owned by him.
“When she discovered this, she was constrained to continue with the names of the companies when she was advised that it did not make any difference as to the ownership of the funds since the director of the company would appoint her as sole signatory to the accounts in question.”