Former First Lady, Patience Jonathan was a classic showpiece, while her husband, former President Goodluck Jonathan was in office.
She always managed to hug the headlines whenever she spoke, putting her otherwise quiet husband in the spotlight. Even out of office, Dame Patience has continued to put the now former first family in a difficult spot.
She seems to have a knack for eroding whatever sympathy, and respect Nigerians have for her husband and family.
She came back in the news when she made a claim on monies being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in accounts with the Skye Bank plc that had been frozen.
The commission had stated that in the course of investigating Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Jonathan, it came across $31.4 million in different accounts.
The commission noted that the funds are likely proceeds of illicit activities, and that the former first lady may be culpable in money laundering schemes.
Soon after that, another $5 million was traced to an account belonging to Mrs Jonathan, which was also frozen, but the former first Lady through her lawyers raised hell, accusing the commission of wanting to steal her money.
While investigations are ongoing to ascertain the facts of the matter, all forms of individuals, and groups have sprung up, rushing to defend the fair maiden in distress.
A militant group, the Niger Delta Peoples Professional Volunteer Force (NDPPVF) vowed to bomb the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should EFCC arrest Mrs. Jonathan.
The group in a statement by Parkinson George-Amabo, its spokesman, also warned the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu to stop the investigation against the former First Lady forthwith.
According to it, if the commission insisted on continuing with the investigation, it could result into “bad blood, embarrassment and possible unrest in the Niger Delta”.
Another group under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Rights Organisation, Concerned Youths and the Ijaw Nation Worldwide also went on the streets of Port Harcourt, the Rivers Sate capital to pressurize the anti-graft body to stay away from investigating Dame Patience.
During a protest march to EFCC’s office in Port Harcourt, yesterday, the youths described the manner in which the Commission was going about the investigation as illegal “despicable, wicked and arrogant”.
Even the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) threw its hat into the ring, in the fight to defend the honour of Mrs Jonathan, when its President, Udengs Eradiri, lamented that the manner the EFCC was going after her smacked of witch-hunt.
According to him, the seeming persecution of Mrs Jonathan, was reminiscent of how the commission went after a former militant lord, Government Ekpumopolo, aka Tompolo, which he said was the cause of renewed militancy in the Niger Delta, that has contributed to the recession the country is facing.
A self-professed human rights activist, who claimed to be a counsel for Mrs Jonathan went on air on Channels television to also defend her, alluding that some of the monies in question belonged to Patience’s late mum, Madam Charity Fyneface Oba.
He also went on to suggest that the EFCC was making a mountain out of a mull hill, as such huge amount of money is nothing to raise eyebrows over, given that former President Jonathan could very well have given them to his wife, being a former deputy governor, former governor, former vice president, and former president.
In all of this, the EFCC seems undeterred, and is keen to follow the case to a logical conclusion, even as Mrs Jonathan also seems keen on ensuring that the commission hands off her money, and back away from her.
However, followers of the ensuing drama are of the view that those racing to defend the former first lady may be hired crowds, only in it for pecuniary gains, the reason they may have failed to consider that an accusation can turn out any of two ways; true or false.
Those in this school of thought say the expected call from any true Nigerian who has seen the negative impact of corruption on the country, would be to call for fair hearing, a thorough, and impartial probe to ascertain the truth of the allegations.
As the events play out, virtually every Nigerian is eager to see how it all ends, given that this is the first time, a former first lady would be in such a spot, and that there is pressure on the EFCC to match its bark with bite.
Will Patience Jonathan ever have her day in court, and if found guilty, jailed? Or will she be vindicated to go home with money she claims belongs to her, or, with virtually everything Nigerian, will the case fizzle out to be swept under the rug with time, and Nigerians move on.
Time will tell.
By Etaghene Edirin ….
RipplesNigeria …without borders, without fears
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