Wole Ayodele in Jalingo
Social and commercial activities were yesterday brought to a halt in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, as youths protested the conviction of former state Governor, Jolly Nyame, by an Abuja Federal High Court, and paralyzed the ancient town.
Nyame, who was governor of the state between 1991 and 1993 and was re-elected in 1999 and 2003 was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment without an option of fine by the court for misappropriating the sum of N1.64 billion.
The youths, numbering over 1,000, under the umbrella of Mumuye Cultural Development Association gathered at Mile 6 area of the town at about 11.00 a.m. from where they moved round the major streets of the town with several placards with varying inscriptions.
With some of the placards carrying inscriptions such as â€˜We donâ€™t want selective justiceâ€™, â€˜free Nyame; temper justice with mercyâ€™, among others, the youths paralysed activities in the town with the traffic gridlock occasioned by the protest.
Chanting various songs, the protesters moved round the town before proceeding to the state government house and finally terminated at Nyameâ€™s residence in the GRA.
Addressing the crowd of protesters at Nyameâ€™s residence, the National President of the socio-cultural group, Anthony Vowaty, stated that the protest was to show solidarity with their kinsman and political leader.
According to him, â€œWe are not fighting the government but we are out to march for solidarity to call on the government to be just in its fight against corruption.
â€œNyame is our political leader in the state, and we are ready to take instruction from him even if he is in the prison.â€
Vowaty however expressed optimism that Nyame would get justice at the appeal court, saying the judgement of the high court would be overturned at the appeal court.
Expressing confidence and hope in the appellate court, he stressed: â€œWe still believe that judiciary is the last hope of the common man, we believe the court of appeal will free himâ€
The conviction of Nyame, who is major opposition figure and one of the leading aspirants for Taraba North senatorial district on the platform of People Democratic Party (PDP) has further heightened insinuations of selective prosecution of the anti-corruption war of the Ptresident Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Reacting to the development, a PDP stalwart in the state, Reuben Adamu, said it has become obvious that the federal government is only interested in a one sided fight against corruption, insisting that there are several leading figures in APC who were indicted for corruption but were never prosecuted.
According to him, â€œIt has become very obvious that the anti-corruption war is only targeted at members of the opposition. If not, why has Babachir Lawal who was indicted by the panel set up by President Buhari and headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is still working free? Or why has the Minister of Communication not been investigated and prosecuted or the NHIS boss? There are many questions begging for answer.â€