A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday dismissed an application of alleged breach of fundamental rights by former first lady, Patience Jonathan against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Mrs. Jonathan had asked the court to compel the EFCC to pay her N2 billion for the alleged abuse of her fundamental rights. In an application filed by her lawyers on June 30th, 2017, they claim that the former first lady’s rights were abused on account of the fact that accounts belonging to her had been frozen by the commission.
However, the anti-graft agency, in a counter-affidavit it filed on October 25, 2017, urged the court to dismiss the suit which it said constituted an abuse of the judicial process. The agency said it was investigating how “homongous deposits” were made into bank accounts that were operated by the former first lady and her Non Governmental Organisation, adding that the cash in-flows were from government establishments. EFCC told the court that it froze the affected accounts upon reasonable suspicion that the funds were proceeds of illicit transactions that involved high-scale money laundering.
In a judgement delivered by Justice John Tsoho, the court said there were three issues seeking determination regarding the matter:
“Whether the application is not an abuse of the court process; whether the applicants fundamental rights have been abused; and whether the applicant is entitled to seek redress against her fundamental rights,” he said.
The judge said the arguments by the commission that the case was under investigation had weakened the submissions of the applicants that the frozen accounts were a violation of her fundamental rights.
“It is obvious that the case of the applicant was weakened by the assertion that the investigation is ongoing,” he said.
“Having held that the applicant’s case is not made out, I further hold that the applicants is not entitled to any of the reliefs sort”
Justice Tsoho maintained that Mrs Jonathan failed to substantiate that her rights were violated in any way by the agenc and added that there was no “strong or irrefutable evidence” that it was the EFCC that raided the home of either Mrs. Jonathan or her relatives. “As of present, the respondent has stated that its investigation is still in process, hence the applicant’s position is uncertain”.
The former first lady told the court that unless it is restrained, the EFCC would continue to harass her, adding that the agency waged a psychological war on her by its incessant threats of arrest of her relations, such as Mrs. Esther Oba, Tamunotonye Oba and her elder brother, Mr. Aseminaso Nyengierefaka. The Applicant said she was being harassed and persecuted by EFCC because of her political views which she had expressed as a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the 2015 Presidential election campaign.