UPDATED: House of Reps did not order 6 banks to unfreeze Patience Jonathan's accounts
- Nigeria's lawmakers have ordered that six of Patience Jonathan's accounts be unblocked by the banks
- The direction came from the House of Representatives committee on public petitions
- The affected banks are Union bank, First bank, EcoBank, Diamond bank, Fidelity bank and Skye bank
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions has directed six commercial banks to unblock accounts operated by former first lady, Patience Jonathan.
Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, a PDP senator from Abia, who chaired the committee gave the directive on Tuesday, September 19, in Abuja.
According to Premium Times, the affected banks are Union bank, First bank, EcoBank, Diamond bank, Fidelity bank and Skye bank.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had earlier directed the banks to freeze the accounts over allegations of corruption.
Kenneth Otowo the lawyer for Union bank had told the panel that the bank placed Mrs. Jonathan’s account under a ‘precautionary restriction’ following a directive by the EFCC.
READ ALSO: 6 choice assets in Abuja allegedly traced to former first lady Patience Jonathan
He said: “We received a communication from EFCC to put a precautionary restriction on the account. The letter was dated March 21, 2016, so we had to act based on that."
However, the committee said the bank could only freeze the account if EFCC proved that it had obtained a court order to that effect.
“Until EFCC proves otherwise, I’ll ask you to remove the precautionary restriction on the account. Let me tell you, whatever you’ll do, you must follow the law. A bank can’t hold a legal entity to ransom.
“I want to order all other banks that all the accounts that have no specific pending order from the courts, please release them,’’ the committee chairman said.
Afam Osigwe the counsel to EcoBank, said Mrs Jonathan’s account could not have been on restriction because there was no court order to that effect. He later said that the bank would cross-check its records and get back to the committee.
The former first lady's lawyers said three of her accounts were frozen in Diamond bank, but Unoma Ndulue, who represented the bank, said two out of the three accounts were fully operative, while one was closed.
However, the leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, stated this through his twitter handle on Wednesday, September 20, that the House is yet to approve the committee's ruling.
“Contrary to reports, the House has not made a decision on freezing of bank accts. The cttee report will be debated on resumption,” he tweeted.
READ ALSO: BREAKING: Ex-first lady Patience Jonathan petitions National Assembly
Meanwhile, the committee has given Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC acting chairman, up to October 4 to appear before it or have arrest warrant issued against him.
The panel also asked Mrs Jonathan’s lawyers and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to reconcile their positions on an alleged tax default of over N10 million.
FIRS had said that Aridolf Resort Wellness and SPA, owned by Mrs Jonathan, failed to pay taxes in spite of serial reminders. However, her lawyers insisted that they had paid all their taxes to the agency.
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Legit.ng earlier reported that Patience Jonathan recovered her N2bn hotel which was sealed off by the EFCC in June 2017.
The EFCC had placed the red inscriptions saying: ‘EFCC Under Investigation’ all over the hotel which is located near Setraco Construction Company, off the Mabushi Kado Expressway.
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