The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions yesterday ordered banks where Patience Jonathan, her friends and relatives, have accounts to unfreeze them forthwith, following the hardships they are going through.
The order followed a petition to the House by Mrs. Jonathan’s counsels, led by Ayodeji Adedipe, complaining of the account closures by certain banks, without adherence to due process.
The committee chaired by Uzoma Nkem-Abonta had in July this year, upon the receipt of the petition dated May 4, 2017 invited officials of the affected banks, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to explain their roles.
At yesterday’s resumed hearing, Director, Enforcement of FIRS, Emeka Obiago, denied witch-hunting Mrs. Jonathan, saying officials of the service had embarked on enforcement of Aridolf Jo Resort Wellness and Spa Ltd, believed to be owned by the wife of the former president, over Valued Added Tax (VAT) evasion, but were rebuffed by some youths in the community.
He said following the attacks on the enforcement agents, the service wrote a letter to the Inspector General of Police, who promised to act on the complaint.
He accused the former first lady’s business firm of N10 million tax liabilities, which he said informed the planned raid, revealing that the company had up to this moment, paid N100,000 only.
Adedipe however denied the claim, prompting Nkem-Abonta to give the two parties 14 days to reconcile their differences and report back to the committee.
In adjourning further hearing on the matter until October 4, this year, Nkem-Abonta regretted the absence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleged by the petitioner as the brain behind freezing the accounts.
He said the committee might be compelled to take actions within the ambit of the law should the commission fail to appear before it on the next adjourned date.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has fixed November 3, 2017 to hear an appeal filed by the wife of the former President against the temporary forfeiture of the sum of $5.9 million found in her Skye Bank account.