INTERVIEW: Ownership of $26 Million: Patience Jonathan Did No Wrong – Lawyer
Last week, a lawyer, Charles Ogboli, who claimed to represent former first lady Patience Jonathan, appeared on a Channels Television interview.
Mr. Ogboli defended Mrs. Jonathan’s actions in the controversial $26 million she has claimed to be hers.
While Mr. Ogboli said in the Friday interview that he is a counsel to Mrs. Jonathan, another attorney known with the Jonathans, Granville Abibo, in a telephone interview on Sunday told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Ogboli does not represent the first lady.
In the interview, Mr. Ogboli said the former first lady did no wrong and was truly the owner of the funds.
PREMIUM TIMES’s Samuel Ogundipe transcribed the interview.
Read Mr. Ogboli’s full interview below
Channels: Can you tell us what is going on with the First Lady’s case with the EFCC?
What is going on is worrisome in the sense that the stories on the pages of the newspaper are not true reflections of the story, there’s no personal knowledge of fact.
The information EFCC is circulating is (not) the true picture of what really happened. Being an anti-corruption activist, I am against anything that has to do with corruption. I believe it’s my duty to fight for an innocent person either by intimidation or by witch-hunting.
Now, the story is all this. The first lady, sometimes in 2013, she wanted to travel out of the country for medical attention. She called on the Mr. Dudafa. She told him she intended to travel with physical cash. Dudafa now said he wanted to get clarification from the EFCC if it was possible to travel with cash.
Channels: That was while she was still first lady?
Yes. Then she contacted EFCC top officials and they advised that she should open an account. So she asked Mr. Dudafa to contact bank which she could open account. Mr. Dudafa now came with two Skye Bank officials. They brought the form. She filled the form with her personal data, there was no company involved. After filling the form and signed, they took the form away. After some few days, they came back with cards, they didn’t come back with cheque books. They came back with cards. Now she started operating these accounts.
Channels: What names were on the cards?
Her personal name was on the card, the first card. The other two cards were on the mother’s business names. The mother used two of the accounts for business.
So they were registered in the name of companies?
The fact is that the names on the card were supposed to be the name of the mother and herself. Unfortunately, when the ugly development started. When she noticed that the card she was having, three of the cards were in companies’ name, Pluto and Seagate and the Transocean Companies. These were the companies that the EFCC is alleging that she has a link with.
Channels: So she did have those cards with her?
She has the cards, but what really happened, when she noticed that the cards were not on her name but only one that bore her name. She reported. She complained bitterly, they had to call the attention of Mr. Dudafa that ‘what is all these nonsense? I did not ask you to open account with companies, who owns these companies?’ Then Mr. Dudafa said it could be a mistake. Then she said ‘please I want these names to be changed.’ Then Mr. Dudafa now went to the Skye Bank and came in again with two bank officials.
Channels: Are you privy to these stories, did you speak directly with Dudafa or did you speak directly with the First Lady?
This is a fact. Not a speculation. The issue on ground is that EFCC made some revelations that 22 million, 15 million, 30 million, that is not the true story. That the issue is money laundering is also not the true story.
The true story is that she opened a personal account and the personal account the Skye Bank made a mistake. I can’t call it a mistake, it could be a deliberate act. Did you get it?
Channels: There’s no way you would open a bank account and then have four other accounts opened for you in companies’ names. Is that what you’re saying happened?
The three accounts, Pluto, Seagate, Transocean, she filled a form for personal account.
Channels: Which is one account?
Yes, she has one account. The mother has two.
Channels: So she also filled forms for her mother?
Yes, she can fill form for the mother because the mother is not educated.
Channels: What names did she use for the accounts, because you did confirm the mother used the accounts for business?
She used the mother’s name on those cards.
Channels: That was while her mother was still alive?
While she was still alive. She used the mother’s name and she used her name. And when they returned the card, she discovered that he name was found on only one. The mother’s name did not reflect on other accounts. Then she complained, take this card back.
Channels: You said her mother was using the companies. That she had companies, that she was using it for business?
No no no no. Get me right. The mother is a petty business trader. If they trade, they pay money into that account. That was what they did. But it doesn’t have business name.
Channels: They were not domiciliary accounts, were they?
They were domiciliary accounts, you understand me?
Channels: With petty business?
It is a domiciliary account. You can change naira and pay in dollar into the account. Did you understand what I mean?
But this is what I am saying, just get it straight. A form was brought after this mistake for the First Lady and for the Skye Bank to effect a change. Based on the fact that the cards given to the First Lady were bearing names of companies that were not known to her.
Channels: So how long ago was that? Can you give us the time frame?
From 2013 and 2014. Because all the accounts were not opened immediately. It was one then the mother wanted to open two. But when they brought the cards, the First Lady noticed these cards were not bearing the mother’s name as was supposed to be. Because the forms she filled were on personal data. Not on any company’s name. But the bank said they were very sorry and they were coming back with forms for her to refill. She what is the refilling? I have filled the first form. But they said no to make it straight. She now refilled another form and they took it back.
And she was complaining where is the new card? Where is my cheque book? Cheque book was not given to her. They gave her only the platinum Visa card.
Channels: That was around 2013 and 2014?
She complained bitterly to the extent that it became a problem between them and Dudafa.
The bank said you can use the card even though it bore the company’s name. She said no. But they said she should use the card, we’re bringing in the changed name. As I am speaking with you, they did not do that until when EFCC sealed up the account.
She wanted to go for medical trip but could not withdraw any money. She now called the people, you said you were going to change the name and you have not even brought my cheque book. The Skye Bank is saying that ‘they’re changing these names.’ The question is, we all know that before you open a corporate account there are documents you’re required to present. What are the documents? Certificate of incorporation, articles of association and memorandum where the names of directors and secretaries are shown.
And before you open such account, there’s what we call ‘know your customer’ which is where you go to the Corporate Affairs Commission to check if the names tallied with what you’re having.
If the EFCC were doing the due diligence, they should have gone to Skye Bank, find the detailed form filled by the First Lady whether she’s actually telling the truth. The form she filled was on a personal name. It was not on any company name. She doesn’t have access to this company, You cannot be a signatory while you’re not a director of a company. The board resolution is not there. So it’s just mere witch hunting. I least expected this (EFCC treatment) on her.