$20m Accounts: Should FG Probe Jonathan, Patience? | Punch
Of course, the government can probe anybody. For me, probing the former president, Goodluck Jonathan, and his wife, Patience, is not a big deal. If they are able to defend themselves, it is okay. Otherwise, the law should take its course. Anytime the government is suspicious of an individual, the person involved should be invited for questioning.
I think such is good for the country. It would send a signal to those who are in power that there would be a day of reckoning. It implies that another person would, sometime in the future, question those who in power now.
Where many people have gone wrong is calling for the arrest of the ex-President and his wife. You cannot arrest an accused person while an investigation is ongoing. It is only in Nigeria that you arrest people before looking for evidence against them.
That should not be encouraged as it is against the rule of law. The law presumes an accused person innocent until it is proved otherwise. There is no basis for the call for the arrest of the ex-President or his wife.- •Yusuf Ali (A Senior Advocate of Nigeria)
Besides the millions of dollar that have been traced to Patience Jonathan, the Federal Government has the power to investigate anybody. A mere suspicion is enough to probe Mrs. Jonathan just like any other person much less the fact that a huge amount of money has been traced to her.
The foreign account saga means that Jonathan and his wife should be probed. Mrs. Jonathan was promoted to the position of permanent secretary during the Jonathan administration. That was the highest office she held. How much did all her salaries amount to? Where could the money have come from? Was her wealth declared as of when her husband was elected as President?
We need to know the source of the money. Certainly, this calls for a fresh probe of Jonathan and his wife. Already, there is a presumption that the money belongs to the public. She has to prove otherwise. We need to send a strong signal that we would not continue to allow profligacy. – •Osita Ogbu (Professor of Law/Director, Centre for Advancement of Democracy & Rule of Law)
For me, the discovery of the money should be divorced from the personality of Mrs. Patience Jonathan. It could have been any other person. It is one of the results of the efforts of the anti-graft agencies to find out how public funds were looted in the past. It could have been anybody that benefitted from the alleged corruption.
Anybody caught with suspicious money should be able to explain the source of the money. In this, it is coincidental that the money belongs to Mrs. Jonathan.
What is important now is to investigate the sources of the money. There is the need for a thorough investigation to know the sources of the money and when it was lodged in the accounts. If the wife of the former president is able to convince the law enforcement agencies that the money was genuinely earned, there is no issue about it. – •Auwal Musa (Board Chairman, Amnesty International, Nigeria)
This is no longer an allegation. It is a statement of an oath by Patience Jonathan that the money belongs to her. But we know that millions of dollars could not have been legally earned from the position of a permanent secretary, a position she held in Bayelsa State until her resignation from public service.
As a president’s wife, Patience’s office during the Goodluck Jonathan administration was not a constitutional one. So, she could not have earned such money from her position. She has to prove that she legitimately earned the money.
Just as she swore to an oath that the money is hers, she has an obligation to prove the source of the money. She should tell the country exactly how she got the money. If the authorities are not satisfied with her explanation, she should be prosecuted.
We should not forget that the Money Laundry Act and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act were set up to address financial and economic crimes.
As a permanent secretary in the Bayelsa State Government, could Mrs. Jonathan have earned such money legitimately? Was she into a business that could have fetched her that amount? She has to prove that it is not ill-gotten money.
Whether Jonathan himself should be probed depends on other facts that could be unveiled. We have always stated that there should be no witch-hunt under the guise of anti-corruption war. If Jonathan is not connected to the allegation, there is no point dragging him into the issue. There has to be evidence that he has a question to answer before he could be invited. For now, I don’t see any reason why Jonathan should be involved. – •Rommy Mom (Executive Director, Lawyers Alert)
For me, it should not just be about the money traced to Mrs. Patience Jonathan. It should be about how public officers loot the treasury. We should remember that Mrs. Jonathan’s office during her husband’s administration was not formal. She was not entitled to salaries or budgetary allocations. But whether the money belongs to her husband is of public interest.
What is important is to examine her worth before her husband became president and the financial status of Jonathan himself before he became president. If there are wide discrepancies that are not explainable, then there could be questions on the sources.
However, that does not imply that I support the so-called ongoing anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari. I think it is political. Otherwise, there is no former public office holder, including the President himself that did not profit from corruption. What they spend on themselves alone, much less what they keep in bank accounts, is much more than what they earn legally.
Today, the President cannot claim that corruption has not continued under his watch. It is embarrassing that public officials have continued to collect millions of naira as ‘estacodes’ while many states pay either half salaries or nothing. Interestingly, when the President visited Osun State recently, he did not mention the fact that the civil servants of the state have been collecting a fraction of their salaries. What has happened to the bailouts the Federal Government gave to the governors? – •Alfred Adegoke (A lawyer)
The ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife should be investigated for corruption. It is clear that Jonathan, directly or indirectly, encouraged a high-level of corruption. If it were in other climes, there are sufficient enough reasons to prosecute Jonathan. It is clear that he supervised a massive looting of the country’s treasury.
If President Muhammadu Buhari is serious in fighting corruption, the first person to prosecute is Jonathan. It does not matter how anybody would look at the issue; somebody was at the helm of affairs when the looting was going on. What can any team do when its head is rotten?
A former Minister of Works and Housing, Chief Tony Anenih; and Chief Olu Falae, another former minister, confessed that they have proofs that directly link Jonathan to ‘Dasukigate’. What other evidence do we need? The ex-president should be thoroughly investigated. Now that his wife has been linked with a case of corruption, he should be invited for questioning. Investigation does not mean that one is guilty. – •Declan Ihekaire (National Coordinator, Activists for Good Governance)
Compiled by: Geoff Iyatse