Hundreds of women on Wednesday stormed the Federal High Court in Lagos, chanting songs of protest, over the freezing order on bank accounts of former first lady, Patience Jonathan.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on September 22, ordered the freezing of some bank accounts belonging to the former First Lady.
The Commission had asserted that this was due to the ongoing investigation of alleged money laundering.
But Dame Jonathan in a fundamental rights suit instituted against the EFCC is asking the court to issue an order, directing the unfreezing of her accounts forthwith.
She is also claiming the sum of 200 million dollars against the commission as damages for infringing on her fundamental rights.
When the suit came up for hearing protesters (all women) dressed in traditional attires of “buba and wrapper” with head gear, stormed the premises asking the court to lift the freezing order.
The women chanted songs in Ijaw and Nigerian Pidgin languages, and raised several placards with numerous inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions read: “Ijaw people are in solidarity with Jonathan”, “Unfreeze ex-president Jonathan’s wife’s account. ‘’We urge EFCC to abide by the rule of law”, “Women must be heard”.
Immediately after the court had risen, they trooped in their numbers towards the prosecution vehicle, chanting songs of solidarity and boldly displaying their placards.
Meanwhile, the presiding judge, Justice Babs Kuewumi has fixed December 7, 2016, for the hearing of the fundamental human rights enforcement suit.
In the pending suit Mrs. Patience Jonathan is seeking for an order of the court to compel the EFCC to unfreeze her account with Skye Bank and issue an order for the maintenance of status quo by parties in the suit.
Joined as co -respondents in the suit are: Skye Bank Plc, the former special assistant to the President, Waripama-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa, Pluto Property and Investment company limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company limited, Transocean Property and investment company limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.
At the resumed hearing of the matter today Patience Jonathan’s lawyers, Granville Abibo (SAN), and Gbenga Oyewole while informing the court of their client’s application and the reliefs being sought, pleaded with the court for an adjournment to enable them serve respondents in the suit.
In response, lawyer to the EFCC Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, while not opposing the adjournment stated that the Commission is still within the statutory time to respond to the application.
Responding to the allegation that the Commission froze Jonathan’s accounts without court order, Oyedepo told the court that due process was followed before the accounts were frozen.
Thereafter, the presiding Judge Babs Kuewumi adjourned the matter till December 7, for hearing.
It will be recalled that the anti-graft agency had frozen Dame Jonathan’s account on allegation that the sum of $15.5 million USD was found in her accounts domiciled at Skye Bank.
However, Dame Jonathan in a bid to recover the said sum of $15.5 million USD, filed a $200 million USD suit against the anti -graft agency before the court.
The former first lady in her affidavit in support of the originating summon sworn to by a legal practitioner, Sammie Somiari, and filed before the court by a Port Harcourt base lawyer, Granville Abibo SAN, the deponent averred that Patience Ibifaka Jonathan, on March 22, 2010, with the assistance of officials of Skye bank, Mr. Damola Bolodeoku and Dipo Oshodi opened five different accounts with the bank, the account opening and mandate forms were duly completed and signed by her.