‘I was not aware the suitcases had cash’ – Jonathan’s aide
Ex-Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, yesterday said he was not aware that over five suitcases given to him by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Aide De Camp, Onne Adegbe, had cash in them.
Dudafa denied that the suitcases were 10 in number, but admitted they were more than five.
He was testifying during hearing in Mrs. Patience Jonathan’s suit before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking to unfreeze her accounts with $15.5 million.
Counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo asked Dudafa during further cross-examination to confirm that Adegbe handed some bags from the President to him.
Dudafa said: “It’s part of my duties to receive gifts on behalf of the former President and his wife.”
When Oyedepo told him that the suitcases were 10, the witness said: “They were not 10. I think they were about five.”
Responding to a question, Dudafa said: “The bags were heavy, but I don’t know the contents.”
When it was suggested to him that the bags contained money, he said: “Nobody told me it was money.”
On how he came about the bags, he said: “The President called me and said the ADC would bring bags, and that I should keep them in his study downstairs. When the President returned, I handed the key to him.”
Dudafa said he received “several of such bags” on the President’s behalf.
Oyedepo asked: “Will it surprise you to know that there was money in the bags?”
Dudafa responded: “I don’t know what were in the bags. The President is still alive. He can explain.”
Dudafa had earlier testified that Mrs. Jonathan maintained personal accounts in various financial institutions, and that she had such accounts before becoming First Lady.
He admitted instructing stewards in the state house to pay dollars into Mrs. Jonathan’s accounts.
Asked who gave the money to the stewards, he said: “Sometimes other Presidential domestic aides hand over the money. At other times, I relay such instructions as given.”
Mrs. Jonathan sued the EFCC, Skye Bank Plc and three companies – Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd and Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Ltd.
She is praying for an order restraining the defendants from tampering with her funds in the companies’ accounts domiciled in Skye Bank.
Asked if he knew of Pluto Properties, Dudafa said: “I became aware of Pluto when the first lady invited me to a meeting with then leadership of EFCC (under Ibrahim Lamorde). She said she had some money from the family and cash gifts she received from time to time from well-meaning Nigerians.
“She said she was concerned with keeping such money in the house and that she wanted advice. The then leadership advised that since the source of the cash was not fraudulent, she could pay the money into personal and corporate accounts opened for that purpose.
“After that meeting, corporate accounts were opened. It was after that that I was directed to get in touch with Sombre Omiedi, who was a family friend. Mr. Omiedi accepted to receive and keep the money in trust for her.
“Afterwards, Mr. Omiedi asked if I could book an appointment for agents of Skye Bank with the First Lady, which I did. It was at the meeting that they presented the ATMs to her. That’s when I became aware of Pluto Properties.”
Dudafa admitted the names on the cards were not Mrs. Jonathan’s but those of the three companies.
Justice Idris adjourned until May 2 to enable EFCC amend its statement of defence.