EFCC Witness to Court: We Don’t Have First-hand Evidence against Jang

3

Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

 The trial of the former Governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang resumed in Jos on Thursday with the EFCC Prosecution witness, Taiwo Olorunyomi telling the court that all the evidence he tabled before the court against the former governor were based on what some people told him.

He  said, “My lord, throughout our investigation, I did not find any money in Jang’s personal account neither did I witness any money being handed over to him. But I was told that the money was withdrawn and taken to the governor  in his office.”

Olorunyomi, an investigator with the ICPC stated this in response to Counsel to Jang, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, who was cross-examining him

The prosecution witness had told the court that the former governor contravened the ICPC act when he allegedly spent the sum of N2bn of the state fund he received from the CBN  on other projects other than its original purpose meant for the disbursement to Medium and Small Scale Enterprise Agency of the state

The  EFCC witness also claimed that the former governor breached the law establishing  ICPC when he  vired  money from the state universal Education Board without approval by the state House of Assembly.

When asked if the law establishing the ICPC also empowers it to dictate to states which project to embark or how the money was to be used, he answered “No”.  When asked if he was aware of the existence of a law in Plateau State which permits internal and external borrowing by government, the ICPC witness said he was aware.

After the cross examination, Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs  called another witness, Jonah Kabong, a civil servant from the office of the Secretary to the State Government to testify in the case

He  sought  to tender before the court two classified documents containing the minutes of the State Security Council meeting and that of the state executive council but the move was objected to by the Defense Counsel, Mike Ozekhome who argued  that the Prosecution Counsel failed to meet the criteria necessary before tendering the documents.

According to him,   the Official Secret Act does not permit the disclosure of classified government document to members of the public without authorisation by heads of such government agency, ministries or parastatal who must personally give approval for their release.

Ozekhome who cited several authorities to buttress his argument pointed out that even if the approval was given, the law allowed only the judge to have access to the information which would be delivered to him in his chambers because of the sensitive nature of the material

His argument was supported by Counsel to the 2nd Defendant, Sunday Odey who added that it was in the interest of the EFCC counsel not to violate the Official Secret Act as the law also prescribed punishment for offenders.

But Jacobs countered their submission and insisted that the legal authorities which they cited regarding the official secret act only applies to the federal government and not the state government.

He urged the court to accept the documents as exhibits because of their relevance in 11the case

After listening to arguments by both counsels, Justice Daniel Longji adjourned the case to 27th June for ruling and continuation of the case

Jang and  Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in the Plateau State Government House in Jang’s administration, were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 12-count charge, bothering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N6.3 billion, an act contrary to, and punishable under Sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011, as amended.