20 September 2017

Nigeria: Reps Ask Union Bank to Unfreeze Patience Jonathan's Accounts

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions yesterday directed the Union Bank to unfreeze an account operated by former first lady, Patience Jonathan, in the bank.

The committee, chaired by Rep Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP, Abia), also directed other banks that may have frozen Mrs Jonathan's accounts without any court order or a communication to that effect from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to unfreeze them.

The committee frowned at the freezing of the accounts without court orders. Officials of Union Bank led by its lawyer, Kenneth Otowo, had told the panel that Mrs Jonathan's account was placed under a 'precautionary restriction' following a directive by the EFCC.

"We received a communication from EFCC to put a precautionary restriction on the account. The letter was dated March 21, 2016, so we had to act based on that," said a director from Union Bank.

But the committee said the bank could only take such decision if EFCC proved that it has obtained a court order to that effect.

Mrs Jonathan's lawyers led by Ayodeji Adedipe had told the committee that her accounts and those of her relatives in EcoBank, Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, Union Bank and First Bank were frozen without any court order.

However, Unoma Ndulue, who represented Diamond Bank, said two out of the three accounts are fully operative, while one was closed.

On Fidelity Bank, Mrs Jonathan's lawyers said they did not have a direct issue with the bank, but that it was through the EFCC.

Meanwhile, the committee has given acting EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu up to October 4 to appear before it or face an arrest warrant.

The committee's decision followed a motion by Rep Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), who said Magu should be arrested and presented before the panel on the next adjourned date for refusing to honour their invitations. But the committee chairman gave Magu up to October 4 to appear.

Nigeria

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