Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: N1.3 Billion Fraud - How Ex-Governor Nyame Diverted N24 Million

Abuja — The trial of former Governor of Taraba State, Rev. Jolly Nyame, continued yesterday at a Federal Capital Territory High Court, Gudu, Abuja with more shocking revelations from a prosecution witness who narrated how the accused allegedly diverted state funds for personal use.

Nyame is facing a 41-count charge instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before Justice Adebukola Banjoko over alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds totaling N1.3 billion.

One of the prosecution witnesses, Japheth Wubon, who is the Permanent Secretary, Taraba State Liaison Office, Abuja, had at the resumption of the case on Wednesday, February 2, narrated how he raised a memo on the orders of the ex-governor for the release of N24 million to buy grains for Taraba State farmers, but was never used for that purpose.

When the matter resumed yesterday, it was a tough battle for the defence counsel, Olalekan Ojo, as he tried hard to discredit the claims of Wubon, who maintained his earlier indictment of the former governor.

Wubon, in his testimony, had told the court that after raising the memo for the release of the N24 million to buy grains, the ex-governor informed him that the funds would be used to purchase security gadgets, instead of the initial purpose for which the fund was released.

The Permanent Secretary, in response to questions from the EFCC prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, further said that the ex-governor ordered him to send the money in cash to him in Taraba State through Mr. Adamu Aboki, who is an accountant in the state's Abuja liaison office, an order he complied with.

He said that to the best of his knowledge, the grains were never purchased, neither were the security gadgets acquired.

In the course of the trial today, certified true copies of the memo written by Wubon for the release of the N24 million as well as cheques raised for same purpose were admitted by the trial judge as exhibits Q and M respectively. The case has been adjourned till tomorrow, Friday for continuation of trial.

It would be recalled that at the resumed hearing of the case on September, 29, 2010, Defence Counsel, Barrister Charles Edosonwan, while leading Mr. Denis Orkuma Nev , a principal prosecution witness in cross examination, had asked the witness if there were records to show that the accused, indeed received money from him while he was governor of Taraba state.

But the witness repeatedly insisted that the former governor through verbal directives had always directed who should be given money, adding that even when the governor asked that money be brought to him in the office, he had never signed anything to acknowledge receipt of such money.

Nyame who is being tried on the allegations of stealing, criminal breach of trust, diversion of public funds, bribery and misappropriation of funds amounting to N1.3 billion belonging to Taraba State government is facing a 41 count charge for fraudulent award of contracts and receiving gratifications.

He had sought to quash the charges at the high court by filing an application on October 10, 2007 claiming there was no prima facie case against him and for want of jurisdiction. Justice Banjoko had dismissed the application then for lacking merit.

Nyame also proceeded to the Appeal Court which equally dismissed the application on February 24, 2010. He further went to the Supreme Court to seek for the same relief. Upholding the ruling of the lower court, the Apex Court in its ruling read by Justice Olufunlola Oyelola Adekeye, ruled that the FCT High Court has jurisdiction to try the former governor.

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