Ijaw youths from nine states of the Niger Delta region, on Thursday, told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to drop the on-going probe of former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan or face the consequences.
The EFC is investigating Patience over alleged money laundering and illegal possession of unexplained funds.
The Ijaw youths who demanded immediate stoppage of the probe said Dame Patience committed no crime known to law, alleging that the controversial probe was a ploy to ridicule former First Family and get back at ex-President Jonathan.
They argued further that the EFCC had no moral right to probe how Patience Jonathan got the so-called whopping fund except it started from other past First Ladies, some of who are richer than Patience.
The youths told the EFCC that it should know that Patience got her cool money through “gifts and gratifications” which they claimed neither constituted a crime nor actionable.
They further said that though the EFCC has a right to investigate allegations and secure proof before dragging culprits before competent court of law, the deliberate media trial of the Former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan was a confirmation that the anti-graft agency merely wanted to ridicule her in order to get at former President Jonathan.
The Ijaw Youths under the aegis of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC),worldwide and led by its President, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, told newsmen in Yenagoa, that the action of the EFCC was and is still “unacceptable, immoral and illegal.
“ It was unfortunate that the EFCC could not learn from the fallout of the way it handled the case of former ex-militant leader, Government Ekpuompolo, alias Tomoplo.
“The EFCC’s indiscreet media trial of Tompolo led to the crisis in the Niger Delta that plunged the country into the current economic mess.
“Jonathan’s wife like most former First Ladies made her money from gifts and gratifications insisting that there was no law against such gestures.
“First Ladies in Nigeria do not do any work. A woman naturally attracts a lot of gifts from men let alone a First Lady who has the power to recommend you for something.
“They receive a lot of thank you and gratifications because most cases they recommend people who come back to thank them.
“Even when they do not recommend, people go and say good morning with a million dollar. It did not start with Patience Jonathan. We know how influential the former First Lady of this country and other First Ladies were.
“We know how powerful, rich and wealthy they are and the property they acquired as a result of gratification.
“If you say Patience should show how she made her money, you must start with all the First Ladies, otherwise, it is a witch-hunt.
“Patience Jonathan got her wealth from thank you and there is nowhere in the law that says we should not receive thank you”.
“So, EFCC should stop this nonsense. If you have issues, go and follow the due process and don’t begin to use the media to tarnish the image of the former first family.
“Ijaw youths would not tolerate further attacks and insults on Jonathan’s family adding that the former President deserves respect.
“Despite the humiliation Jonathan suffered from the wife of late former President Musa Yar’Adua, he never harassed the late President’s family.
“Jonathan should be respected in Nigeria. You heard what happened during the time of late President Yar’Adua, Jonathan did not witch-hunt that family irrespective of the humiliation he suffered despite the position of the law.
“This is a witch-hunt and the EFCC must stop this attitude because very soon, people will begin to resist them.
“Nigerians will get to the point where they will no longer accept it.
“We support the fight against corruption. All of us know that corruption has eaten deep into our fabric but this selective fight especially geared towards the region must not be allowed”, Eradir said.
He lamented that despite the corruption traced to the former late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha and his family, the government still approved a university for his wife.
“It is in this country that they talked about Abacha’s loot, yet a university had been approved for Abacha’s wife. In this same country where they said Abacha was corrupt.
“So, why are you treating one former first family differently and then everybody wants to humiliate Jonathan’s family in the best of their ability”.
“The former First Lady, Patience, has no question to answer. The EFCC is destroying Buhari’s anti-graft policy because when your anti-graft is beginning to show it is one-sided, it will lose credibility”, he said.
The IYC boss further asked the EFCC to to return about N23bn, $100million and other assets it seized from the former Governor of the state, late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
He wondered what the EFCC was still doing with the money when Bayelsa and other states were facing financial difficulties.
“Bayelsa State funds are in their hands, they have not returned it.
“Why are they keeping the funds? Are they meant to keep funds that they recovered? Why is the money not being paid into TSA if they believe they are proceeds of corruption.
“They should return our money. Those are the issues they should focus on”, he said.
He added: “I thought that the EFCC by now will begin to face squarely its job of ensuring that criminals are brought to book and not the media charade that is usually its modus operandi.
“They have not learnt from the Tompolo incident. Instead of focusing on facts and doing their jobs via due process, they quickly went to the media and that incident led this country to where we are today,” he said.