By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, has prayed Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja, to commit three bank Managing Directors to prison, over their alleged refusal to unfreeze 10 bank accounts belonging to her companies.
The former first lady, had through her Counsel, Chief I. A. Adedipe, SAN and Chief Mike Ozokhome, SAN, sought three bank Executives jailed for their “persistent and flagrant disobedience” of a court order that granted her access to the accounts containing aggregate sums of $5.8million and N3.5billion.
The three top managements according to Mrs. Jonathan are, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of First Bank Nigeria Plc, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, the Chief Executive Officer of Skye Bank Plc, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru and the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank Plc, Uzoma Dozie.
She told the court that the banks blocked her and representatives of her companies from withdrawing funds from the accounts, despite an order the court made on December 5, 2017, which lifted a Post-No-Bill order the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, placed on 16 separate accounts that were linked to her.
It will be recalled that Justice Nyako of the same court had in a ruling, vacated an interim order the EFCC secured on May 30, 2017, which froze 16 accounts that were linked to the ex-first lady on the premise that they were subject of money laundering investigations.
In the instant motion, the former first lady and the firms, told the court that the three bank Executives “have all refused to obey the orders of this honourable court and has refused to lift the restrictions placed on accounts of the applicants in flagrant disobedience of the order of this honourable court.
“That despite the service of the orders and Forms 48 and 49 of this honourable court on the respondents/contemnors, they have bluntly refused to obey the orders of this court.
“Unless this honourable court intervenes, the respondents/contemnors will continue to disobey its orders”, the applicants added.
However, in a counter-move, the three banks filed preliminary objections to challenge the jurisdiction of the court to hear the contempt proceeding Mrs. Jonathan and her firms initiated against their CEOs.
They are asking for an order suspending any further proceedings in the suit, as well as an order striking out or dismissing the committal proceedings for want of jurisdictional competence.
They maintained that the contempt charge constituted an abuse of judicial process, even as the banks separately prayed the court to set-aside the purported service of the Forms 48 and 49 on their CEOs.
The hearing on the matter has been fixed for April 11 before Justice Nyako.