Four companies yesterday pleaded guilty to the money laundering charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) over $15m, which former first lady, Patience Jonathan, said belonged to her.
The companies are: Pluto Properties and Investment Company, Seagate Property Development Company, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd, and Avalon Global Property Ltd.
However, the three people – former domestic aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Warpamo Dudafa; Amajuoyi Briggs, and Adedamola Bolodeoku (a former official of Skye Bank) – who were charged along with the companies, pleaded not guilty before Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the accused had between November 13, 2013 and June 2015, used the different companies to commit the offences.
They were also alleged to have conspired to retain the over $15m, which they ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of crime.
According to the EFCC, the alleged offences are contrary to and punishable under sections 15 (d), 17(a), 18(a), and 27 (3) (c) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004.
The offence is said to have also contravened the provisions of sections 1(2) (c), and 1(19) (6) of the Miscellaneous offence Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
During their appearance, the four companies announced their representation as follows: Friday David for Pluto Properties and Investment Company; Agbor Obaro for Seagate Property Development Company; Fredrick Dioghowori for Trans Ocean Property Ltd; and Taiwo Ebenezer for Avalon Global Properties Ltd.
The four companies pleaded guilty to conspiring with Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku to launder the sum of $15, 591, 700 on or about November 13, 2013, after which the EFCC prosecution, led by Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed the court to allow a short time for review of the facts.
The trial judge, Justice Kuewumi, however, declined the prosecution’s request, adding that he would adjourn to a further date.
Meanwhile, the counsel representing Briggs and Bolodeoku, Messrs Tochukwu Onyiuke and Joseph Okebiemen informed the court of a bail application filed on behalf of their clients, adding that same had not been opposed. They urged the court to admit the accused to bail on liberal terms.
Counsel representing Dudafa, Mr Gboyega Oyewole, also informed the court that his client was already on bail on existing conditions granted by a brother judge, and urged the court to allow his client enjoy same bail standing.
The court granted bail to Briggs and Bolodeoku in the sum of N250 million with one surety in like sum, while Dudafa was asked to file a formal bail application.
The court adjourned till September 27 for continuation of trial. The accused persons were however ordered to be remanded in prison custody pending when they perfect their bail conditions.
They are mercenaries
The former first lady, Patience Jonathan, has accused the anti-graft body of presenting unknown persons as representatives of the companies, adding that they didn’t show any letter from their respective boards authorising them to appear in the case.
Media aide to Mrs Jonathan, Chima Osuji said “This is a clear evidence of the desperation of the prosecution to pull down the former first lady and confiscate her hard-earned money.
“It is an irony. It was the former first lady who went to court for the repatriation of her confiscated money when she realised that the EFCC and its co-travellers were playing politics with this issue, after she had come out publicly to say that the said money belongs to her and that she had all evidence to prove the sources of her money. Up till this very moment, EFCC has refused to interrogate or invite her for questioning.”
The statement added: “Mrs Jonathan is not a director, shareholder, promoter and/or participant in any of the four companies now under trial, and she was the sole signatory to all the said accounts, contrary to the fabrication that she used her driver and cook as proxies”.
“He said Mrs Jonathan had denied ever receiving monies from any unknown sources into her accounts and that the accounts were opened in order to facilitate her travel overseas particularly for medical treatment and sundry purchases for herself and her late mother Mrs. Charity Oba (Mama Sisi).”