An aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, on Monday told a Federal High Court, Lagos, in southwest of the country, that he was not aware of the appointment of the former First Lady, Patience, as a Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State, south-south of the country.
Dudafa made the assertion under cross examination in a suit filed by Mrs Jonathan, seeking to vacate a “no debit” order placed on her account containing 15.5 million dollars (N5.5 billion) domiciled with Skye Bank.
Joined as defendants in the suit are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Skye Bank, Dudafa and four other companies.
The companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Ltd, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Ltd, Transocean Property and Investment Company Ltd and Globus Integrated Service Ltd.
At the last adjournment in February, Dudafa had given evidence as plaintiff’s witness in the suit, while the court adjourned for continuation of trial.
When trial resumed on Monday, the witness moved into the box and was reminded of his oath, while counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, continued his cross-examination.
Oyedepo asked the witness if he was aware that Mrs Jonathan was a Permanent Secretary in the employ of the Bayelsa State Government, and in response, Dudafa said he was not aware as it was not part of his schedule to know.
Oyedepo :“Are you aware that the plaintiff’s appointment was confirmed on June 23, 2012.
Dudadfa: I don’t know.
When Oyedepo asked the witness if he will be surprised to know that the account which held the funds in issue was opened when Mrs Jonathan was a serving Permanent Secretary in the employ of the Bayelsa State Government, the witness again replied: I don’t know when the account was opened.
Meanwhile, when Oyedepo asked the witness: If you see the letter of appointment and the confirmation letter, will you know ? Counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), raised an objection.
Adesipe objected to the line of questioning on the grounds that the witness was not the maker of the documents or was he aware of its content.
Counsel to the third and fourth defendants, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) agreed with the submissions of Adedipe.
When Oyedepo argued that Ozekhome could not align with the submissions of Adedipe, Justice Mohammed Idris held that the witness had denied knowledge of the appointment and that the documents had not yet been tendered before the court.
Besides, the court held that cross-examination was not limited to questions raised in the examination-in-chief and that the line of questioning was allowed to the extent of showing the witness the documents.
In continuation of his cross-examination, Oyedepo asked the witness if he deposed to his witness statement on oath on behalf of the plaintiff to which he replied, “I deposed as a witness.”
Oyedepo posed the question again, insisting that Dudafa had yet to answer same, and the witness retorted: “I will not be cajoled, I am under oath”.
Oyedepo then said: “Read paragraph two of the plaintiff’s statement on oath; did you not state that it was on behalf of the plaintiff?”
Witness: It is on behalf of the plaintiff.
Justice Idris has adjourned continuation of trial until March 27.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Patience Jonathan had accused the anti-graft agency of placing a “no-debit order” on her bank account without a valid court order.
In her fundamental rights suit, she is seeking an order to unfreeze her accounts.