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Nigeria court unfreezes millions in ex-first lady's fraud probe
AFP | 2017-04-06 20:29:13.0
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) and his wife Patience. File photo
Image by: NOOR KHAMIS / REUTERS
A judge in Lagos on Thursday ordered Nigeria's anti-graft agency to release one of several bank accounts frozen as part of an inquiry into the wife of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
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Patience Jonathan had filed a complaint against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in September, claiming that she is the rightful owner of $15.6 million held in several accounts.
The accounts were frozen last July as part of a money laundering and forgery investigation of some of the president's former advisers, as well top officials at four companies.
They are suspected of laundering millions of dollars from public institutions.
But Justice Mojisola Olatoregun said the EFCC had committed an "abuse of process" with regards to one account in which Patience Goodluck is listed as the holder, which held $5.8 million.
The other accounts, which she claims are hers but are held by associates, are not affected by the ruling.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected in 2015, has vowed to stamp out the graft that plagues the oil-rich country.
But critics have accused the ex-military ruler of orchestrating a witch-hunt against former officials of Goodluck's party.
On Wednesday, Buhari was dealt a setback after one of Nigeria's leading judges was cleared of 18 corruption charges, with a judge calling the accusations "highly speculative."
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Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee/GroundUp
Protesters march to the Union Buildings to demonstrate against President Zuma's decision to fire his finance minister (file photo).
Several organisations and political parties have thrown their weight behind a nationwide shutdown on Friday in protest against President Jacob Zuma and corruption.
A Facebook event set for Friday, titled The day SA comes to a standstill #sawillrise, has been organised by the groups Impeach the Leech, Zuma Must Fall March, and We Are South Africans.
By Tuesday afternoon, at least 11 000 people had indicated they would participate.
The Democratic Alliance has indicated that it will march to Beyers Naude Square, Johannesburg on Friday.
"We are also organising a number of events around the country on the same day for those who are not able to join us in Johannesburg," national spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said.
Van Damme said this should not be a one-day event, but that South Africans should continue to keep up the pressure until Zuma is fired.
'Do not go to work'
On Monday evening the government objected to calls for the nationwide shutdown.
"We have noted social media messages which call for a shutdown of the country on Friday. The call made in these messages can have unexpected consequences especially for our fragile economy, business and communities," spokesperson Donald Liphoko said.
Government does not support civil disobedience and a select few infringing on the constitutional rights of the majority, he said.
The government statement was issued after a message was circulated on social media saying: "Every citizen, every city, everyone that cares about our country. Not because of the DA or any political party but because of South Africans. Do not go to work, or to school or do anything unless you're taking to the streets in protest.
"Block highways, stand with your communities, go to political houses, go to prayer meetings, arrange your own marches. Do whatever you can to make your voice heard."
The message included a call for Zuma's head.
"I will no longer be supporting corruption and the evil that has plagued our beautiful country. I will be joining a nationwide shutdown. On Friday the 7 April the people of South Africa, regardless of race, or political affiliation will stand up against Zuma & every single other corrupt official. Together, South Africa will rise! #ZumaMustFall #SouthAfricaMustRise," it said.
Outa, in collaboration with other civil society organisations, has said there will be two meeting points, one in Pretoria and another Cape Town.
In Pretoria, protesters will march from Church Square to the Union Buildings. The march will start at 12:00. In Cape Town they will gather outside Parliament at 12:00 with other organisations.
Communities in other cities and towns have been urged to gather at community halls.
Johannesburg metro police said on Tuesday they did not yet have a clear details about the marches.
"There are so many marches planned. We will have to confirm with everyone then we will know a way forward," spokesperson Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said.
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