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Lawmakers direct six banks to unfreeze Patience Jonathan’s account

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,Patience Jonathan ,N4.9 Million

-House of representatives committee grants Patience Jonathan access to her frozen accounts in six commercial banks.

-The committee also gave the EFCC boss an October 4 deadline to appear before it or face arrest.

The house of representatives committee on public petitions has directed six commercial banks to allow former first lady, Patience Jonathan have access to her account domiciled in their respective banks.

The directive was issued by the Uzoma Nkem-Abonta,(PDP, Abia) chaired committee on Tuesday during the hearing of a petition by Jonathan.

The affected banks are Union Bank, First Bank, EcoBank, Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank and Skye Bank.

The banks had to freeze the account on the orders of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over allegations of some irregularities over the sources of the funds.

Officials of Union Bank, led by Kenneth Otowo, a lawyer, had told the panel that the bank placed Jonathan’s account under a ‘precautionary restriction’ following a directive by the EFCC.

“We received a communication from EFCC to put a precautionary restriction on the account. The letter was dated March 21, 2016, so we had to act based on that,’’ he said.

But the bank’s action was condemned by members of the committee who were of the opinion that the bank could only take such decision if EFCC proved that it had obtained a court order to that effect.

“Until EFCC proves otherwise, I’ll ask you to remove the precautionary restriction on the account. Let me tell you, whatever you’ll do, you must follow the law. A bank can’t hold a legal entity to ransom,” he said.

“I want to order all other banks that all the accounts that have no specific pending order from the courts, please release them.’’

READ ALSO: EFCC reveals Patience Jonathan’s Abuja Plaza

Afam Osigwe, counsel to EcoBank, claimed ignorance over the freezing of  Jonathan’s account, saying he would cross-check its records and get back to the committee as no restriction could be in place without a court order to that effect.

Jonathan’s lawyers said three of her accounts were frozen at Diamond Bank.

However, Unoma Ndulue, who represented the bank, said two out of the three accounts were fully operative, while one was closed.

On Fidelity Bank, Jonathan’s lawyers said they did not have a direct issue with the bank, but that it was through the EFCC.

First Bank and Skye Bank were not represented at the meeting.

Meanwhile, the committee has given Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the EFCC, up till October 4 to appear before it or have arrest warrant issued against him.

The panel also directed Jonathan’s lawyers and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to reconcile their positions on an alleged tax default of over N10 million as the FIRS claim the taxes are unpaid while Jonathan’s lawyers insist the taxes were duly paid.

Watch former first lady Dame Patience Jonathan go all emotional in video below.

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