Disputed MSME Money Not Paid into Jang’s Account, EFCC Witness Tells Court

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By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) witness, Mr. Uchenna Igwe, has told the Jos High Court presided over by Justice Daniel Longji that the disputed N2 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) fund, for which the commission dragged Senator Jonah David Jang to court, was not at any point paid into the senator’s account.

Igwe, a Senior Manager with Zenith Bank, was the Branch Manager of the Beach branch of the bank when the said money was paid.

He said that the money though was meant to be paid into Plateau State Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (PLASMEDA) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), it was paid into the Plateau Project account.

While being cross-examined by the defence counsel, Mr. Robert Clarke, Igwe said: “When I noticed it, I immediately notified the state Commissioner for Finance and Accountant General. An instruction was raised by the accountant general to move it into PLASMEDA account, and I complied on the 20th of March, 2015.

“Another instruction came from the same accountant general to the effect that the money be moved back to Plateau Project account on the 24th of March, 2015, and that was done.”

He said that thereafter, the money was disbursed in tranches into various accounts including the state’s Central Salary Account, Office of the Secretary to the State Government (OSSG), Government House Administrative account, and Plateau State House of Assembly Account, noting that no money was paid into the personal account of the 1st Accused, Jonah David Jang.

Igwe disclosed that before the N2 billion was paid into the Plateau Project Account, the balance in the account was N839,398,474.39, adding that with the N2 billion, the account balance was raised to N2,839,398,474.39.

Speaking earlier, another EFCC witness, Dr. Mudashiru Olaitan, Director, Development Finance Department with the CBN presented by the EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said two accounts were provided to the CBN; Plateau State Project Account and PLASMEDA account, but added that it chose to pay into Plateau State Project Account on the instruction of the governor, being the Chief Financial Officer of the state, even though there was a counter letter by the General Manager of PLASMEDA instructing the CBN to pay the N2 billion into PLASMEDA account.

Olaitan said the CBN had to write to the state government when its monitoring team observed that the N2 billion was not disbursed to the end users.

The communications between the CBN, Zenith Bank and the state government were brought as exhibits to the court and the judge admitted them in evidence and were marked exhibit P1 to P22

Olaitan said though he was sure that the money was not disbursed for MSME purpose for which it was meant, he was not sure of what the state government diverted the fund for.

Justice Longji, having listened to the witnesses, the prosecution and defence counsel described the court section as interesting, and adjourned to Wednesday for continuation of hearing.