Court Sentences Former Taraba Gov, Jolly Nyame to 14 yrs Imprisonment

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  • EFCC detains ex-governor Yero, ex-minister, 2 others

Alex Enumah in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna

In a major victory for the anti-corruption campaign by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, a high court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday handed down a 14 years sentence to former Taraba State Governor, Reverend Jolly Nyame.

Trial judge justice Adebukoola Banjoko delivering judgment on the 11 years old trial said she cannot help but hand down the maximum sentence after finding the defendant guilty of allegations of fraud, criminal breach of trust amongst others.

The judge held that the judgment is meant to serve as a deterrent to other public office holders who have plans to dip their hands in the public treasury.

“The court would be failing in its responsibility if it does otherwise. As regards to the criminal breach of trust, a maximum of 14yrs without the option of fine.

“Misappropriation, 2yrs without the option of fine, gratification, 7yrs without the option of fine, obtaining valuable things without consideration, 5yrs without the option of fine.
“The sentences, however, are to run concurrently”, the court held.

In addition, the court ordered that all the forfeited funds be returned to Taraba State government.
Justice Banjoko stated that the court was morally outweighed by the fact of the case.

The court held that either Nyame got corrupted while in office or was corrupt from day one going by the way he embezzled the state’s funds.

According to the judge, Nyame breached the trust reposed on him by the people of Taraba State who had on three separate occasions elected him as the governor of the state.

Justice Banjoko stated that the former governor, being a clergyman was suppose to be an epitome of honesty and integrity but chose to betray the confidence reposed in him.

The judge noted that Nyame continued to dip his hands into the state’s treasury, even when he was aware that he was under the intense searchlight of the anti-graft agency.

While holding that the governor had no legal justifications for the crime, justice Banjoko said, “He behaved like a common thief with unbridled greed”, adding that, “the court must impose the maximum sentence to discourage other public office holders”.

Justice Banjoko found Nyame guilty on a 27- count criminal charge and discharged and acquitted him on 14 others.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had in 2007 arraigned Nyame on a 41-count criminal charge bordering on criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of N1. 64bn belonging to the state.

He was accused of committing the offences between 1999 and 2007 when he served as governor of Taraba State.
In prosecuting the case the EFCC presented various witnesses who alluded to the fact that Mr Nyame approved the diversion of various funds amounting to over N345m to a company, Saman Global within five weeks in 2005, among other allegations.

Though Nyame denied having any link with the said company, the court, however, found him guilty of breach of public trust.

According to the judge, the defendant confirmed approving the memo wherein the order for the transfer of the funds were made, adding that the actions of the perpetrators under the watch of the Governor can be likened to the story of Alibaba and the 40 thieves.

The court had in March this year dismissed a no-case submission filed by Nyame and ordered him to enter his defence.

In a related development, the former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Ramalan Yero and the erstwhile state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abubakar Gaya Haruna, were on Wednesday detained by the Kaduna zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Others also detained by the commission included the former Secretary to the Kaduna state (SSG) Government during Yero’s tenure, Hamza Ishaq and a former minister, Nuhu Somo Wya.

The four of them were said to have responded to the commission’s directives and had been reporting at the zonal office of the EFCC in the past two months in line with the procedure for investigations.

Sources said that the commission decided to detain them wednesday morning as they went to report in order to prepare for their arraignment in court today (Thursday).

“The case is coming up tomorrow (Thursday) so I can confirm to you that the former governor is here with us and he will be arraigned in court with the three others” the EFCC source who pleaded anonymity said.
Yero has been under investigation for the role he allegedly played in the disbursement of the N750 million PDP campaign fund before the 2015 general election.

The Kaduna zonal spokesman of the EFCC, Kamaludeen Gebi could not be reached at the time of filing this report.
The former governor and the other three accused persons were interrogated for hours last week and made to sign some documents as part of the investigative procedure and thereafter were allowed to go home.