Patience Jonathan Sues SERAP
By Ebitonye Akpodigha
Wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience, has instituted a lawsuit against the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) over an alleged vilification and breach of human rights.
Mrs Jonathan said the group carried out a campaign of calumny against her on the internet, print and electronic media, publishing unfounded and malicious allegations that she stole $15 million and was supposed to be prosecuted by the Federal Government.
The former First Lady also urged the court to grant her an interim order restraining SERAP from writing about her in the media.
In a statement dated October 20, 2016 and signed by SERAP executive director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization disclosed that, “On 18th October 2016 at about 3pm, we received court papers dated 6th October 2016 from a bailiff.
“The papers indicate that one Union of Niger Delta Youth Organization for Equity, Justice and Good Governance suing for themselves and on behalf of Mrs Dame Patience Jonathan filed a suit number FHC/L/CS/1349/2016 before a Federal High Court in Lagos against SERAP.”
Mr Mumuni narrated further that, “The court papers also indicate a prayer for an order of interim injunction restraining SERAP from taking any further steps in further vilification, condemnation and conviction of the Former First Lady Mrs Dame Patience Jonathan, in all public media and in the use of the judicial process for that purpose by the extremely publicized pursuit of any application for the coercion of the Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute the Plaintiff/Applicant for owning legitimate private property, pending the hearing and determination of the Originating Summons.” He said the suit was seeking an order directing SERAP to stay all action and to desist forthwith from proceeding against Mrs Dame Patience Jonathan, with any process whatsoever, pending the hearing and determination of the Originating Summons.
“SERAP was also served a separate application to be joined in the suit number FHC/L/CS/1318/2016 earlier filed by SERAP against the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, over allegations of $15m unexplained wealth against Mrs Jonathan,” the SERAP boss quoted the lawsuit as saying.
However, reacting to the suit, Mr Mumuni said, “SERAP categorically rejects these misleading and entirely unfounded accusations against us by Mrs Patience Jonathan and her group, and we will vigorously oppose the suit in court.
“SERAP will never, in the discharge of its mandates, succumb to any intimidation, harassment and attacks in any way, shape or form. We are now consulting with our lawyers and will be preparing shortly our defence in court.”
“At no time did SERAP suggest or even hint that Mrs Jonathan was guilty of the allegations against her.
“On the contrary, what SERAP has said is that the fact that the $15m found in the four accounts belong to Mrs Jonathan raises serious suspicion or at the very least a prima-facie case of unexplained wealth/illicit enrichment, and imposes an obligation on Mrs Jonathan to explain and justify the source(s) of the $15m.
“To be sure, SERAP is not engaged in any campaign against Mrs Jonathan or any other politically exposed persons for that matter.
“Our suit was filed against the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and not Mrs Jonathan. It’s a joke to accuse SERAP of trying to coerce the Attorney General to perform his constitutional duty, as this is for the court to decide,” Mr Mumuni said.
He added that, “SERAP consistently strives to ensure that its human rights and accountability work meet international standards and the highest standards of analytical rigor devoid of bias or assumptions as to individual’s guilt.
“Mrs Jonathan should end her attacks on an NGO simply working to make the government function to improve the conditions of millions of marginalized and disadvantaged Nigerians.
“Our work is driven solely by the fundamental principles of justice, impartiality, solidarity, universality of human rights, transparency and accountability in the management of Nigeria’s resources and wealth.
“We believe that it is through action that we have taken in this matter that the government can be motivated to live up to its commitments and to meet the expectations of Nigerians for good governance, human rights and the rule of law.”