17 July 2018

Nigeria: Corruption Trial of Ex-Plateau Governor Jonah Jang Adjourned

The Plateau State High Court in Jos has adjourned the corruption case of the ex-Plateau governor, Jonah Jang, to October 30 and 31, and November 1.

Mr Jang, alongside a former cashier in the office of the secretary of the state government, Yusuf Pam, was alleged to have diverted about N6.3 billion public funds before he left office in 2015.

The adjournment of the case came following an application by the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Henry Ejiga, who said that EFCC witnesses could not be brought to the court today because of alleged threat to their lives.

Mr Ejiga said, "We made efforts to ensure that the hearing started today." But this couldn't be "due to security reasons which urged the court to adjourn the matter. I urge my Lord to vacate tomorrow and next tomorrow's sittings. There is threat on the lives of our witnesses."

Responding to the application by the EFCC, counsel to Mr Jang, Robert Clarke, said, "this is a criminal trial and has to be fast and speedy because of the presumption of the matter. Justice delayed is Justice denied.

"It is surprising that the reason being given by the prosecutor is on the security situation in the state. It is laughable and shameful on the side of the EFCC which has the custody of arms and ammunition at their disposal and they always said that they are the red devils and can catch you wherever you go," Mr Clarke added.

But Mr Ejiga however said, " EFCC is not the ministry of defence. Our application borders on the threat on the lives of our witnesses. Our witnesses are key to the case and their protection matters. We urge the Lord to consider our application for adjournment."

The judge, Daniel Longji, in his response to the submissions of both the defence and prosecuting counsels said, "let me not be tempted to join issues. We took time to fix this case for three days. We are serious people. Please let us be serious about it."

The judge then adjourned the trial.

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