Niger Delta youths under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Rights Organisation, Concerned Youths and the Ijaw Nation Worldwide have warned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stay away from investigating the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, 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”.
Recall that the former first lady is being probed by the EFCC over alleged money laundering linked to her and totalling $26 million.
The youths accused President Muhammadu Buhari and the EFCC of victimising the former first lady, abusing her rights and engaging in media trial before legal prosecution.
Some of the protesters’ placards read: “Who is behind the victimisation of our daughter: Her hands are clean”; “Niger Delta sons and daughters, arise against injustice”; “EFCC, leave Mrs. Patience Jonathan alone; how many former first ladies have been prosecuted in Nigeria?”
Others read: “Mrs. Patience Jonathan is our daughter; be careful the way you embarrass her, EFCC”; “Stop victimising Niger Delta people, EFCC”; and “We are not moved by the threat of EFCC”.
In a statement made available to journalists, the Secretary of the Ijaw Youths Council, who led the group, Daniel Wilcox said: “The media trial of the former First Lady, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan has shown that the EFCC is biased, has no regard for the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
“We hereby demand that the EFCC should steer clear of Mrs. Patience Goodluck Jonathan, as there is no established legal or political precedent for what EFCC is currently doing to Mrs. Patience Jonathan,” he said.
Meanwhile, the EFCC has described the protest as unjustifiable, pledging to do the right thing “no matter whose ass is gored”.
According to the EFCC’s South-South zonal head, Mr. Salihu Ishaq, “we do not shy away from our responsibility, no matter whose ass is gored. If there is a case, we would follow it to its logical conclusion and where there is none, there is none”.
“We wonder what must have given rise to such spurious allegations of money theft. Was there a history of missing government fund now in possession of the former First Lady? Was there any budgetary allocation to the office of the First Lady then, believed to have been misappropriated? Is this not a clear case of making an accused, the victim of no judicial trial when we have courts of competent jurisdiction?”
He argued that her probe by the commission was an indirect way of getting at the former President.
“The aim of this purported investigation is to drag the person of the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to the mud. It is a well orchestrated effort on the part of the EFCC to show the former president in bad light. This is as a result of the towering image of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in the international community.