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Plateau court admits more evidence against ex-Gov, Jang over N6.2 bn fraud

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THE Plateau State High Court sitting in Jos overruled the plea by former Plateau State governor, Jonah Jang, to refuse admittance of sensitive state documents as evidence over an alleged N6.2 billion fraud.

The presiding judge, Justice Daniel Longji admitted more evidence against the former governor, who is currently embroiled in a prosecution charge by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over misappropriation of funds belonging to the state government.

On June 13, counsel for Jang, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, objected that the prosecuting team intends to make use of the minutes of the State Security Council meeting and  State Executive Council between 2014 and 2015 during Jang’s tenure as evidence before the court.

Sunday Odey, counsel for Yusuf Gyang Pam, a cashier of the Office of the Secretary to the Plateau State Government, who is standing trial along with Jang, also objected to the admissibility of the document.

Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN had, through the ninth prosecution witness, Jonah Kabong, a Civil Servant in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government sought to tender the documents.

He described it as “crucial in the prosecution of the matter”, Jacobs had argued that “the government does not need an authority from itself to tender a document that’s within its custody”, stressing that what governed the admissibility of a document in court was the Evidence Act.

At the resumed hearing, Justice Longji dismissed the objections and admitted the documents as exhibits P47 – P50.

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In his ruling, the Justice Longji decided against the defence counsel stating that his counter-arguments were not sufficient to deny the prosecuting team.

“I have carefully considered the submissions of both counsels on some of the issues raised. The issues raised by the defence team are elementary, and the crucial issue is that all the authorities cited are considered civil matters, and none of the documents tendered in support of their position has met the requirement of the law in dismissing the application made by the prosecution,” he said.

Speaking further, he explained that the State government knew the information contained in the document would not compromise the security infrastructure of the state.

“Only the State government knows the information that will jeopardise the security of the State and the Government has released these documents, the PW9 did not tender it in a private capacity, he is a representative of the government and no private individual has the right to challenge it,” he said.

On May 7, 2018, EFCC had preferred a 12-count charge bordering on alleged corruption and misappropriation against  Jang.

It alleged that Jang, who served as Plateau governor between 2007 and 2015, misappropriated N6.2 billion, two months to the end of his tenure as governor.

The former governor was charged alongside Pam Yusuf, then a cashier in the office of the Secretary to the State government through whom he laundered over N4 billion from the state’s coffers.

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The case was adjourned till July 10 and 11, 2019 to continue the trial.

Author profile

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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