The media is currently awash with denigrating reactions to Dame Patience Jonathan’s claim of the $31.4 million frozen by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government from accounts belonging to companies linked to her.
While most of the commentators appear excited in their condemnation of the former first lady, very few have given considered thoughts to the issue, especially as raised by the first lady.
In her fundamental rights action before the court, the wife of the former President is asking the court to compel the EFCC to immediately vacate the “No Debit Order” placed on her accounts.
She also says the action of the EFCC WITHOUT A COURT ORDER OR PRIOR NOTICE TO HER IS ILLEGAL, OVERBEARING AND CONSTITUTES A BREACH OF HER FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS as enshrined in Section 33, 34, 35 & 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
She wants the court to order Skye Bank to pay her damages in the sum of N200 million for what she termed a violation of her right to own personal property under Section 44 of the Constitution.
No criminal charge has been brought against the former first lady, and as such, she has no case to answer, which is why the entire freezing episode is in bad taste, malicious and completely unacceptable. One would have thought that the No-Debit-Order placed on the accounts would have been predicated on a formal charge for a known crime and backed by a court order as provided by law. But neither of those was the case; a fact that strengthens her claim for breach of her fundamental rights.
Never in the history of Nigeria has it been a crime to be a person of means. Our very constitution grants all citizens the right to own property. No law forbids the former first lady from embarking on profit making ventures. It, therefore, amounts to an insult and an affront on our constitution to infer that a woman who has been wife of a deputy governor for many years, wife of governor, wife of a vice president, wife of a acting president and then first lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria lacks the capacity to generate money from business concerns in whatever currency she deems fit without being corrupt or falling foul of the law.
If the EFCC has a case against her they should prove it in open court rather than trampling on her rights and attempting to rubbish the image of former President Goodluck Jonathan, a man greatly loved by Nigerians, whose legacies are testamentary of an undying commitment to the wellbeing of the average Nigerian.
Most of all, if no case has been established against Dame Jonathan popularly called Mama Peace, as it does appear, the least that can be done by this government of ‘change’, if nothing else, is to use the same standard that justified General Abacha’s innocence in justifying Dame Jonathan’s innocence, which in reality is what they law provides.
One is deemed innocent until proven otherwise. This government of change cannot rewrite our laws without legislative endorsement.
Enough of the unwarranted harassment and criminalising of innocent Nigerians.
Let Mama Peace be!
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.