The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has uncovered fresh evidence against Dame Patience Jonathan, the wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and her cousin, Esther Oba.
Oba who is linked to the alleged fraud after she was identified as one of the owners of N9bn accounts bearing the signatures of Patience has now been put on the EFCC watch list. She is said to be in possession of two valid Nigerian passports which bear two different signatures.
According to an EFCC source who made the revelation and said: “After we froze Patience Jonathan’s accounts a few months ago, we continued to investigate the former First Lady. We then stumbled on some accounts, which did not bear her name but had her signature.
“We realised that one Esther Oba, who we believe is Patience’s cousin, had been operating some accounts for her. The accounts had Oba’s BVN but carried Patience’s signature. So we began investigating Oba.
“We found out that Oba used two different passports in operating some of the accounts. The two passports are valid but carry different signatures. We immediately wrote a letter to the Nigeria Immigration Service to seek clarification.
“Immigration confirmed that the two passports are indeed valid. They bear the same name, picture and details but different signatures. So, they have also launched an investigation into the matter. Obviously this is a case of fraud.”
However, the agency is yet to located Oba. The source further added that EFCC had already hired some forensic experts to study the signatures.
He said, “Oba’s signature and that of Patience look exactly alike. But in order to build a solid case, we are hiring some forensic experts to study the signatures and give us a report which we would be able to present in court.”
According to the source, Bank Verification Number has made things difficult for politically-exposed persons to keep huge sums of money in their accounts.
The source explained that such people opened accounts with other people’s identities but used their own signatures on the accounts so that only “the sponsors” would have access to the accounts.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun-Ishola had recently granted an order freezing the bank accounts allegedly belonging to Patience with over N9bn lodged in them.
While one of the former President’s wife’s accounts, domiciled in Skye Bank Plc, has a balance of $5,316.66, five other company accounts and one belonging to Oba were also frozen.
While the companies’ accounts in six commercial banks are said to have a balance amounting to N7.4bn, Oba’s account is said to have $429,381.87 (N135,255,289.05).
The companies are Finchley Top Homes Limited, Aribawa Aruera Reachout Foundation, Magel Resort Limited, AM-PM Global Network Limited, Pansy Oil and Gas Limited.
Apart from the recently frozen accounts, the EFCC had, in July, frozen four company accounts with a balance of $15m.
Patience had informed a Federal High Court in Lagos that the money in the accounts belonged to her even though the accounts did not carry her name or BVN.
Some of the accounts were said to be operated by some domestic servants in the employ of a former Special Adviser to ex-President Jonathan on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa.
The companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.
The companies had, on September 15, 2016, pleaded guilty to money laundering when they were arraigned before Justice Babs Kewumi of a Federal High Court in Lagos.