Former First Lady, Patience Jonathan Withdraws Suit Against SERAP

Former First Lady, Patience Jonathan
Former First Lady, Patience Jonathan

Wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, has withdrawn a lawsuit filed on her behalf by a group known as the Union of Niger Delta Youth Organization for Equity, Justice and Good Governance, against the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP.

SERAP had published a report alleging that the former first lady was involved in financial fraud to the tune of $15 million and ought to be prosecuted.

But Jonathan and her group sued SERAP for “using online, print and electronic media to publish to the public unfounded and malicious allegations” against her.

The group also claimed that “The campaign by SERAP is in breach of Mrs Jonathan’s right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty under Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).

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It added that “SERAP seeks to coerce the Attorney General of the Federation to embark on a breach of the same right when the Attorney General is in a better position than SERAP and the Court to know whether or not there is any evidence of wrongdoing by Mrs Jonathan.”

At the resumption of hearing on Tuesday, Jonathan’s lawyers told the court that they were no longer interested in pursuing the matter, and subsequently applied to withdraw it.

Timothy Adewale, who represented SERAP in court, however stated that the case should never have been brought to court in the first place as it had only succeeded in wasting the court’s time.

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He urged the judge to fine the plaintiff for wasting the time of the court. Justice C.M.A Olatoregun subsequently struck out the case and awarded N25,000 as cost to SERAP.

SERAP had in an earlier response to the preliminary charges said that “Patience Jonathan’s claims cannot be maintained because they are brought on her behalf by a group that is unknown to law.”

“This very point calls into question the legal capacity to file this suit against SERAP, and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain her suit,” it said.

The Patience Jonathan/EFCC saga started when the anti-graft agency arrested former aide to president Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, for money laundering.

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Some bank accounts containing $15 million dollars was traced to the suspect and the accounts were subsequently frozen.

But the former first lady, quickly wrote to the EFCC, claiming ownership of the accounts and the monies and saying that EFCC had no right to freeze her accounts.

This prompted SERAP to publish a statement urging the anti-corruption body to investigate how Jonathan was able to make such huge amount of money when she was neither a career civil servant nor a businesswoman.

The former first lady later ‘clarified’ on the source of the money which she said was the accumulation of gifts she received during her time as first lady.