A Plateau State High Court sitting in Jos yesterday discharged and acquitted former Governor of the State, Senator Jonah Jang over the N6.3 billion corruption charges against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The trial court under Justice Christy Dabup, also discharged and acquitted a former cashier in the office of the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Yusuf Pam who was accused alongside Jang.Jang and Pam were arraigned by the EFCC in 2018 on 17 count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust, misappropriation and conversion of public fund to personal use.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs had alleged that while in office as the Governor, Jang received N2 billion loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in the state but diverted the fund to another account from where it was misappropriated.
The commission also accused Jang of using part of the alleged misappropriated state fund to repay N250 million personal loan which he obtained from a bank.EFCC also alleged that it found N10 million left in the personal account of Pam, which it claimed was part of the proceeds of the corrupt dealings, having been the one who withdrew in cash and took all the misappropriated fund to the former governor.
But Jang and Pam, through their lead Counsels, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Sunday Odey respectively challenged the allegation, maintaining that their clients are innocent, and that allegations were frivolous and merely fabricated.Delivering judgment yesterday, the trial judge dismissed the charges against the accused on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubts.
The judge said: “There is no doubt that from the testimonies that Plateau State Government applied for and received N2 billion from CBN for the disbursement to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in the state. The ingredients of misappropriation, conversion and dishonestly too must be established concurrently.“It is necessary that the prosecution proves that there is misappropriation and conversion and that the said sum converted was done dishonestly.
“To the mind of the court, the first defendant admitted borrowing the fund for outstanding budgetary requirements, a memo was raised, he was advised to borrow the fund to be refunded; it was not discernible that there was any dishonest intention.
“The court does not find any evidence of dishonesty as to resolve the matter in favour of the prosecution. The prosecution has not discharged the burden of these counts to warrant the accused being found guilty as charged.”Jang in a reaction to the judgment said that truth will always prevail over lies no matter how long it stays, describing his experience throughout the period of his trial as the prize of leadership.
In a statement which he issued shortly after the judgment, Jang said, “I hold no grudge against anyone as I consider whatever I have gone through as the price I had to pay for choosing the path of leadership. I give God the glory for bringing me through and I call on all Plateau sons and daughters, including people of goodwill on the Plateau not to wish our leaders bad.
“Let us close ranks and speak with one voice so that Plateau will emerge out of its current state to take its rightful place of pride as the envy of other states. The Plateau we have always known and been proud of has taken backstage, but the onus is on us to reclaim our state and build it to the land of our dreams as was planned by our founding fathers and the generation of past leaderships.”
EFCC to Appeal Judgment
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said it would appeal the judgment discharging and acquitting Jang, and an ex-cashier, Pam.The commission stated this in a press statement posted to its verified Twitter page and signed by its Head, Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, yesterday afternoon.The EFCC said it had initiated processes for an appeal “immediately.”
Culled from THISDAY