Patience Jonathan faces fresh hurdles over $15.5m

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Patience Jonathan faces fresh hurdles over $15.5m

Patience Jonathan faces fresh hurdles over $15.5m
December 14
06:39 2016

Detectives have stepped up the probe of former First Lady Mrs. Patience Jonathan by retrieving her service records from the Government of Bayelsa State.

The retrieval of her records is part of the screening of her salary and emoluments as a retired permanent secretary to determine whether her earnings could match the 13 assets traced to her.

Besides the assets, the former First Lady is laying claim to $15.5m in some domiciliary accounts.

The anti-graft agency has written the Rivers State Ministry of Lands and Survey for details on some assets linked with the former First Lady and a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

But officials have blocked access to the documents.

Some of the officials may be investigated for obstructing justice, a source said last night.

It was unclear yesterday whether or not the said officials were acting on orders.

A source close to the investigation said there was no where in the records where the ex-First Lady earned foreign exchange as emoluments and estacodes amounting to over $15.5million she is claiming to own.

An EFCC source said: “This agency has retrieved the original service records of the ex-First Lady from Bayelsa State. Preliminary analysis of her records revealed a lot of discrepancies including issues regarding special promotions given to her which were faulted even by the Office of the Head of Service.

“More importantly, from her records, especially her pay packet of N700, 000, there is nowhere she earned as much as $1million not to talk of over $15million, which she is claiming ownership of.

“We have to go through her records and pay slips to prove that the $15million in question was undeserved and should be seized by the court. All her official estacodes and emoluments were not up to the amount being claimed.

“As far as we are concerned, she has questions to answer in line with Section 7 of the EFCC Act.”

Section 7 of the EFCC Act says: “The commission has power to (a) cause any investigations to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organisation has committed any offence under this Act or other law relating to economic and financial crimes.

“(b) Cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income.”

It was also discovered that although she retired on October 15, 2014, the voluntary retirement was approved on 12th May, 2015.

But detectives are trying to analyse her pay slip to know if she received salaries for eight months after her notice of voluntary retirement.’

“If she did receive salaries within the eight-month period without any refund, she might be liable for another offence. A letter acknowledging her voluntary retirement was specific that any extra salary after notice of retirement ought to be paid,” the source said.

A 12th May, 2015 letter signed by Mrs. Biobelemoye Charles-Onyema, the Permanent Secretary of the Civil Service Commission, confirmed the acceptance of the retirement of the ex-First Lady.

The letter from the Bayelsa State Civil Service Commission to the ex-First Lady said in part: “I am directed to refer to Establishment Circular No. 7/1999 of 5th October, 1999 and to inform you that the Civil Service Commission at a meeting held on 12th May, 2015 approved your voluntary retirement from the Bayelsa State Civil Service as a Permanent Secretary (Consolidated Salary with effect from 15th October 2014.

“I am further directed to inform you to handover all government properties in your possession to the most senior director in your ministry and report to the Permanent Secretary, Establishment, Training and pensions Bureau, Governor’s Office, Yenagoa with your appointment papers and other relevant documents for processing of your retirement benefits.

“Any salary earned after 15th October 2014 will be deducted from your gratuity.”

Meanwhile, the anti-graft agency has written the Rivers State Ministry of Lands and Survey for details on some assets linked with the former First Lady in Port Harcourt.

But the ministry’s officials were said to have blocked access to the relevant documents by the EFCC.

Of 13 properties allegedly linked with the ex-First Lady, eight are said to be in Port Harcourt.

The assets in Port Harcourt are former Customs Service officers mess; two duplexes on 2/3 Bauchi Street; landed property with blocks at Ambowei Street; three Luxury apartments of four bedroom each at Ambowei Street; and Grand View Hotel on Airport Road.

The assets in Yenagoa include two marble duplexes at Otioko GRA by Isaac Boro Expressway; Glass House on Sani Abacha Expressway, which is housing Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board; Akemfa Etie Plaza by AP filling Station, Melford Okilo Road; and Aridolf Resort, Wellness and Spa on Sani Abacha Expressway.

Another top EFCC source, who spoke in confidence, said: “We have officially written the Ministry of Lands and Survey for details on some of the assets of the ex-First Lady and a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke in Port Harcourt but they have not been forthcoming.

“Up till now, they have not made relevant documents available to the EFCC. It is a kind of blocking of access to these land titles which are vital to our investigation. We don’t know whether or not they are acting on orders from above.

“We are hopeful that the officials will cooperate with us. But it is certainly a punishable offence to obstruct investigation by EFCC and other anti-crime agencies.”

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