The former First Lady of Nigeria, Patience Dame Jonathan, has recovered her hotel – valued around N2bn – which was sealed off by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in June 2017.
The anti-graft agency had placed the red inscriptions saying: ‘EFCC Under Investigation’ all over the hotel which is located near Setraco Construction Company, off the Mabushi Kado Expressway.
However, The Punch reports that when it visited the five-storey building recently, the EFCC inscriptions had been covered with patches of grey paint.
When a correspondent of the news outlet knocked on the gate, three men who attended to him said they acted on the instruction of Mrs. Jonathan, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
When asked if they had the right to enter the building, one of them said, “Go and ask the EFCC if they had the right to put their sign all over the building in the first place. If you want more information, go and ask madam.”
Reacting to the development, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said he did not know much about the seizure of the building and thus could not say if it had been returned to Patience or not.
He said, “I have spoken to the appropriate people but I was not able to get any answer on the matter.”
A source at the EFCC said it was wrong of Patience to have erased the EFCC inscription from the building.
He said, “Sometimes when we are investigating some politically exposed persons, they immediately begin to sell off their buildings in order to cover their tracks and run away with the cash so that is why we put EFCC signs on the buildings so that innocent people will not buy those buildings.
“As it is, she has removed the inscriptions and can quickly sell it off.”
Speaking on the development, Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyer, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), said he was not aware of the seizure of the property.
Adedipe said, “I am not aware of the seizure of property. If the EFCC seal was removed from the property, let them go and put another one. In any case, we have sued the EFCC for abuse of her human rights and human dignity. The matter is pending before the Federal High Court in Abuja and everything has been included in that suit.
“We are challenging all the seizures because without prejudice to our case, Mrs. Jonathan was neither a public officer nor a contractor. So, the idea of harassing her beats my imagination.
“I don’t see the basis for the EFCC’s harassment of that woman and the case wears a political toga because she was a formidable element during the campaign.”
Although the hotel has not been officially valued by the EFCC, some estate agents within the community disclosed that the property should be worth about N2bn.
Photo credit: Daily Trust