Rep panel asks banks to unfreeze Patience Jonathan’s accounts

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions has directed six commercial banks to unfreeze accounts operated by former first lady , Patience Jonathan.
The committee chaired by Uzoma Nkem - Abonta (Abia - PDP ), gave the directive on Tuesday in Abuja at a hearing on a petition by Mrs. Jonathan .
According to the News Agency of Nigeria , the affected banks are Union Bank , First Bank , EcoBank , Diamond Bank , Fidelity Bank and Skye Bank .
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had directed the banks to freeze the accounts over allegations of some irregularities over the sources of the funds .
Officials of Union Bank , led by a lawyer , Mr . Kenneth Otowo , had told the panel that the bank placed Mrs. Jonathan’ s account in the financial institution under a ‘ precautionary restriction ’ following a directive by the EFCC .
“ We received a communication from the EFCC to put a precautionary restriction on the account . The letter was dated March 21 , 2016 so we had to act based on that , ’’ he said .
But the committee deplored the action , saying that the bank could only take such a decision if the EFCC proved that it had obtained a court order to that effect .
“ Until the EFCC proves otherwise , I ’ ll ask you to remove the precautionary restriction on the account . Let me tell you, whatever you ’ ll do , you must follow the law . A bank can ’ t hold a legal entity to ransom .
“ I want to order all other banks that all the accounts that have no specific pending order from the courts , please release them , ’’ the committee chairman said.
Counsel for EcoBank , Mr . Afam Osigwe, said Mrs. Jonathan’ s account could not have been on restriction because there was no court order to that effect .
He later said that the bank would cross - check its records and get back to the committee .
As for Diamond Bank , Mrs. Jonathan’ s lawyers said three of her accounts were frozen there.
However , Mrs. Unoma Ndulue , who represented the bank , said two out of the three accounts were fully operative while one was closed .