Four companies linked to former First Lady Patience Jonathan, yesterday pleaded guilty to laundering $15,591,700 (about N5billion).
They are: Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Friday Davis), Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Agbor Baro), Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd (represented by Dioghowori Frederick) and Avalon Global Property Development Ltd (represented by Taiwo Ebenezer).
The companies, along with a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku, were arraigned at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku pleaded not guilty to a 17-count charge before Mr. Justice Babs Kuewumi.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said the accused persons conspired on November 13, 2013 in Lagos to launder $15,591,700.
It said the defendants “reasonably ought to have known that the funds form part of the proceeds of an unlawful act”.
The alleged offence is contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3).
Mrs Jonathan sued EFCC and Skye Bank over the freezing of her bank accounts, demanding N200 million damages.
She said the funds in the accounts of the companies, which pleaded guilty, were hers.
An aide, Sammie Somiari, who deposed to an affidavit on behalf of the former first lady, claimed she helped Mrs Jonathan open the accounts.
He said Dudafa, on March 22, 2010 brought two Skye Bank officers, Bolodeoku and Dipo Oshodi, to meet Mrs Jonathan at home, following which she authorised the accounts’ opening. She was the sole signatory.
Somiari, however, added that after the five accounts were opened, Mrs Jonathan discovered that Dudafa opened only one of the accounts in her name; the other four were opened in the names of Dudafa’s companies.
According to Somiari, Mrs Jonathan had been operating the accounts after Oshodi promised to change the accounts’ names to hers.
“Since 2010 up until 2014 and thereafter, the applicant (Mrs Jonathan) had been using the cards on the said accounts and operating the said accounts without let or hindrance.
“Even in May, June and July 2016, the applicant travelled overseas for medical treatment and was using the said credit cards abroad up until July 7, 2016 or thereabouts when the cards stopped functioning,” he said.
Mrs Jonathan is urging the court to compel the EFCC to immediately remove the “No Debit Order” placed on her accounts.
Seagate Property, Dudafa, Bolodeoku and Sompre Omiebi (said to be at large) were accused of indirectly retaining $1,094,500 through a Skye Bank Plc account (2110002207) between November 14 and 19, 2013. EFCC said the money “forms part of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”
They were also accused of indirectly retaining $1,200,000 through the Skye Bank account between January 21 and December 19, 2014; as well as $1,349,700 through the same account between March 31 and May 20, 2015.