Patience Jonathan: court strikes out suit against SERAP
A Federal High Court in Lagos, has struck out a suit by a group, the Union of Niger Delta Youth Organisation for Equity, Justice and Good Governance, against the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The group had filed the suit on behalf of former first Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, seeking to stop SERAP from prosecuting Mrs Jonathan over allegation of money laundering.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun on Wednesday struck out the suit after the group applied to court for a withdrawal of the suit. The plaintiff had accused SERAP of using online, print and electronic media to publish malicious allegations against the former first lady, accusing her to having stolen 15 million dollars.
The group, in the claim, had prayed the court for an order of interim injunction restraining SERAP from taking any further steps in condemnation of the former First Lady either in all public media or through judicial process
It said the campaign by SERAP was in breach of Jonathan’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty under Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).
In response, SERAP had argued that the group was not registered as provided by the Companies and Allied Matters Act, and therefore lacked the legal right to institute an action. Counsel to SERAP, Mr Timothy Adewale, had described the suit as a complete “waste of time”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that five companies had on Sept.15, 2016, pleaded guilty to laundering about 15.5 million dollars after their arraignment before Justice Babs Kuewumi.
The companies are: Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd, and Avalon Global Property Development Ltd.
Following the companies’ plea, a prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Rotimi Oyedepo prayed the court for an order of forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government. But the former first lady, who lay ownership claim of the monies in the companies’ accounts, has also filed a suit seeking to unfreeze the accounts.