The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has presented more evidence on the ongoing trial of a former Plateau State governor, Jonah Jang.
Mr Jang is being tried for alleged N6.2 billion fraud.
EFCC presented two witnesses, Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government; and Janet Justin, an operative at the Economic Governance Unit of the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency disclosed this in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Tony Orilade, on Thursday.
Operatives of the EFCC arrested Mr Jang on Aprill 23, 2018, for alleged misuse of cash worth N10 billion while in office. He was the senator representing Plateau North Senatorial District at the time of his arrest.
Mr Jang is standing trial alongside Mr Pam before Justice Daniel Longji of the Plateau State High Court on a 12-count charge bordering on diversion of public funds. The offences were allegedly committed while Mr Jang was serving as governor between 2007 and 2015.
According to the statement, the EFCC investigator, Musa Sunday, during a cross-examination session, debunked Mr Pam’s claims to the court that he was pressured to make his confessional statements and was put under duress and psychological trauma.
PREMIUM TIMES In April reported how Mr Pam said the statement he made indicting his former boss was taken by EFCC under duress.
However, the counsel to Mr Pam, D.P. Dusu, raised an objection to the admissibility of the statements Mr Sunday made. He argued that his client made the statements “under duress, suffering trauma psychologically.”
The objection prompted the trial judge to order a trial within a trial.
The EFCC investigator further narrated how Mr Pam was invited by the EFCC for interrogation as part of investigations into the alleged fraud.
He mentioned the dates Mr Pam visited the commission’s office. He said November 16, 2017, March 10, 2018, April 27, 2018, April 30, 2018 and May 3, 2018, were the dates the former cashier visited the EFCC for interrogations.
“Pam had made his first statement on January 16, 2017, in an open space office at the EFCC with other officers about 10 in number, including the Unit Head, Babaginda Umar, Janet Justin, Simon Okom among others who were present carrying out various duties assigned to them,” he said.
“Pam was cautioned that he should be truthful and that anything he says will be used as evidence in a court of law.
“In line with the investigation, Pam was asked relevant questions concerning the role he played in respect to the suspicious transactions, and he rendered the statements.
“Pam also gave all the details by himself between 11 am and 5 pm during which he was allowed to get refreshments and lunch.
“So I’m really shocked by his claims of duress.”
According to the investigator, Mr Pam admitted in the statements to being the one that paid monies into the ex-governor’s Zenith Bank account.
Mr Sunday added that: “On April 27, 2018, Pam did not fulfil the conditions for bail which included that he provides two serving directors in any of the Federal Ministries or Agencies, who had landed properties in Abuja Municipal Area, supported with original Certificate of Occupancy as sureties and a bail bond of N20 million.
“After six days, he was released discretionary to his lawyer, Christopher Eiche, following many pleas.”
Subsequently, the bail condition document was tendered in evidence by Mr Jacobs, and it was admitted by the Court as Exhibit PWT 1.
“Pam was never manhandled, slapped or coerced at any point to make his statement,” he stressed.
Afterwards, Mr Jacobs, counsel to the EFCC, called a second witness, Janet Justin, an operative at the Economic Governance Unit of the EFCC.
While being led in evidence by Mr Jacobs, she reaffirmed that “EFCC officers are professionals and would never slap anyone while rendering their statements.”
Justice Longji, however, admitted the statements of Mr Pam of the aforementioned dates as PWT 2, PWT 3, PWT 4, PWT 5, PWT 6 and PWT 7 respectively, and adjourned to August 6 and 7, 2019 for the continuation of the trial within trial.
Earlier in the course of proceedings, the judge overruled an objection raised by the counsel for Mr Jang, Benson Igbanoi, challenging the admissibility of letters tendered by the EFCC from Plateau State House of Assembly dated July 19, 2019; Attorney General dated July 2019 and Central Bank of Nigeria dated March 2019 on the grounds of “fair hearing” and “personal interest”.
The trial judge held that: “A hearing in a matter in a court cannot be said to be fair if a party is denied the right to be heard, hence how can documents tendered translate to a fair hearing.
“The document sought to be tendered is for the purpose to be as evidence. In line with Section 83 (3) of the Evidence Act, the said documents were written upon request in the matter and does not hold any personal input.
“I have carefully considered the submissions of both counsel and I think the arguments of the defence in this matter is not substantial.
“I hereby mark the documents as Exhibit P62, P63 and P64 respectively.”