Appeal Court Reverses Sentencing, Acquits Ngilari

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Daji Sani in Yola

Despite his mysterious release from prison before he was granted bail, an Appeal Court sitting in Yola thursday set aside the judgment of Justice Nathan Musa of the Yola High Court, which had sentenced the former governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Bala James Ngilari to five years imprisonment without the option of a fine.

Last March, the state High Court had convicted the former governor of fraud. The court held that he violated the procurement law in the purchase of 25 units of vehicles worth N167 million.

He was then sentenced to five years imprisonment, but with an option of choosing any prison, he wanted to be kept in.
After his conviction, he spent only a few weeks in jail and was released even before the prison authorities could get the court order for his bail.
He was subsequently granted bail on health grounds.

But the presiding judge of the Appeal Court, Justice Olayemi Folashade Omoleye, thursday discharged and acquitted Ngilari on the grounds that he was not a procurement entity, as the trial court averred in its earlier judgment.
The former governor, along with the former Secretary to the State Government, Ibrahim Andrew Welye, and former Finance Commissioner, Mr. Sanda Lamude, had been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for awarding contracts without following due process.

They were accused of criminal conspiracy, contrary to Section 8 of the Penal Code.

Speaking shortly after the judgment, counsel to the former governor, Obed Wadzani, pointed out that the charges preferred against Ngilari were based on the state procurement law and the charges did not state the offences he had committed.

“Ngilari as at the time he awarded the contract for the purchase of the said vehicles was a sitting governor, and the governor is a public officer.

“But the Court of Appeal ruled that the state procurement law did not envisage a public officer for ministries and a procurement department, nor a sitting governor,” he added.

‎In another development, the Adamawa State Government thursday dissolved the management and Governing Council of the Adamawa State University (ADSU) in Mubi.

This was contained in a press statement signed by the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Ahmad Sajoh, who stated that the decision was taken at the weekly Executive‎ Council meeting, and was based on the recommendation of the visitation panel.

According to the statement, the Commissioner of Education, Prof. Kalepwa Farauta has been appointed as acting vice chancellor to stabilise the university.