A Plateau State High court has adjourned the trial of a former governor of the state, Jonah Jang, to September 12 and 13 for the continuation of his trial for alleged N6.2 billion fraud.
Mr Jang is standing trial alongside Yusuf Pam, a cashier at the Office of the Secretary to the State Government (OSSG) before Justice Daniel Longji 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.
He was arrested on Aprill 23, 2018, by operatives of the EFCC for alleged misuse of cash worth N10 billion while in office. He was the senator representing Plateau North district at the time of his arrest.
According to a statement on Thursday signed by the EFCC spokesperson, Adebisi Adeniyi, the commission’s prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs, presented an EFCC investigator, Musa Sunday, as a witness.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Musa, 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.
Mr Pam had said the statement he made indicting his former boss was taken by EFCC under duress. The counsel to Mr Pam, D.P. Dusu, had argued that his client was forced to indict the former governor.
Mr Adeniyi said the former cashier had admitted in the statements to being the one that paid monies into the ex-governor’s Zenith Bank account.
According to the statement, Mr Musa revealed that the amount was funded by various accounts of the state government, including Plateau State Government Account, Plateau State Government Project 1 Account and PLASUBEB account domiciled in Zenith Bank.
He said from the statement of account, the fundings were stated clearly in the OSSG Cabinet Special Services Account, and had a credit of over N35 billion. He said the account was opened in 2009 while Mr Jang was the governor.
“Investigation carried out by the EFCC team handling this matter shows a massive withdrawal in 2010 by the second defendant, Pam. This withdrawal was in tranches of N10million per withdrawal,” he said.
“However in 2011, the withdrawal became more frequent, while in 2014 and 2015 it became massive, most especially on the 26 March 2015 to 9 April 2015.
“Pam withdrew over N3billion within these three weeks during this period the presidential and governorship elections took place.
“Jang had contested for a senatorial position during the said period. While the investigation was ongoing, Pam was invited to EFCC and the statement of account was disclosed to him as the withdrawals summed at over N30billion were carried out by the second defendant, Pam.
“Pam thereafter volunteered a statement to his knowledge about the withdrawals from the bank accounts. The withdrawals were carried out without due process and the Permanent Secretary was not in the know and did not sign or approve any cheques for withdrawals.
“In the course of my investigation, during the interview with the second defendant on where he delivers the monies, Pam made it clear in his statement that he delivered the monies directly to Jang and there is documented evidence to prove the withdrawals and delivery to Jang,” Mr Musa narrated.
Counsel for Mr Jang, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, read through the PW11 in the Law dictionary page 267 that defines “classified”, in which PW4, Habila Doug, Permanent Secretary, OSSG Cabinet Special Services, prepared classified memos aiding the rationed cash allowance for the disbursement of the security funds. The classified expenditure had no formal voucher nor retirement.
Mr Ozekhome had while cross-examining the EFCC investigator, questioned his knowledge of “classified expenditure” and if he was aware that the monies were used to address security matters in the state via security votes given in support of the state.
Mr Adebisi, however, opposed its admissibility, arguing that Mr Musa was not a legal practitioner, “but a detective and law books or materials are for legal counsel to use in their written or oral submissions before the court”.
Judge Longji admitted the document and marked it Exhibit D6. He said that “the document will throw more light on the meaning of classified and is relevant in this matter.”