Igbo youths took to the streets of Enugu on Wednesday in protest against the alleged “persecution” of Patience Jonathan by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Brandishing placards and chanting solidarity songs, the group, led by its coordinator, Victor Ezenagu, marched to the Enugu office of the EFCC, where they submitted a petition to the South-East zonal head of the commission, Mr. Johnson Babalola.
Some youths also protested in front of the Enugu State Government House.
In the petition entitled, ‘Unjust persecution and desperate plan to humiliate former President Goodluck Jonathan,’ the youths demanded an immediate unfreezing of Patience Jonathan’s accounts.
The petition read in part, “While we salute the commitment of the present administration towards fighting corruption in the country, we express our disaffection to the manner the war is being prosecuted by the commission under your watch.
“Some of the actions of the commission in recent time leave no one in doubt that certain persons have clearly been singled out to be humiliated.
“A case in point is that of a former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, who is currently being prosecuted by the EFCC. We see the freezing of her personal accounts and ongoing prosecution as an attempt to discredit former President Goodluck Jonathan.”
The youths said they were miffed that Jonathan was being victimised by the EFCC, even after sacrificing his ambition “for the sake of the country’s future.”
The petition also read, “It is quite condemnable that having sacrificed his ambition for the sake of Nigeria’s future, Jonathan’s family is being visited with such cruelty from the commission.
“We say this because Mrs. Jonathan is not the first person to have occupied the office of First Lady in Nigeria. Yet, none of the other former occupants of that office is under probe, let alone trial.
“Following from the above, it is also not out of place to state that the current administration is indirectly prosecuting and persecuting Jonathan.
“We are sending a clear message that this unjust persecution, under whatever guise, will not be tolerated against a family that sacrificed so much for this country.”
The protesters further alleged that the former First Lady was being persecuted for being Igbo.
“The Igbo youths are, therefore, demanding that every action against her should be suspended as we are ready to take this mass action higher if our demands are not met.”
But responding after receiving a copy of the petition, the EFCC South-East zonal head, Babalola, said the matter was already before the court.
He urged the youths to redirect their protest to the appropriate quarters.
Babalola equally appealed to the youths to partner the EFCC to rid the country of corruption.
“The EFCC is not embarking on a witch-hunt of the former first family or anybody else as you said in your petition. The commission is only trying to rescue the nation; what we are doing is in the interest of the nation,” Babalola told the youths.