Alleged N1.64bn fraud: Ex-Taraba Gov., Nyame justifies extra-budgetary expenses

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From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja

A former Governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, has told a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in Gudu district, that since there was always no room for supplementary budget, extra-budgetary expenditure was normal when executing government projects.

Nyame, who testified, on Thursday, in a N1.64 billion fraud case filed against him, said he was prudent in spending state funds during his tenure.

The former governor was standing trial on 21-count charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), bordering on misappropriation of Taraba funds to the tune of N1.64billion during his tenure as governor.

The former governor, who was cross examined by the Prosecution Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), was responding to a question on whether he regarded spending state funds outside budgetary provision as prudent.

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Jacobs served the former governor with exhibit 001, which was money budgeted for the Governor’s Office during his tenure in 2005. The Governor’s Office made an excess expenditure of N982million.

In his response, Nyame said, “budgets are only estimates,’’ adding that he considered himself being prudent with state funds though he exceeded budgetary provisions “because I performed.’’

Jacobs also made available exhibit 002, being over-head cost for 2006 for the Governor’s Office. The House of Assembly approved N40 million, while N713 million was spent, with an excess expenditure of N673 million.

When asked by Jacobs if he regarded that as being prudent too, Nyame replied, “My Lord, I was prudent and it could have been the House of Assembly that could have proved otherwise.’’

In 2007, N100 million was budgeted for the Governor’s Office as over-head, while N2.1billion was spent, with N2billion as excess expenditure.

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When asked by the prosecution if he knew that it was an offence to exceed the budget estimate, the former governor replied that he knew, but only if there was no supplementary budget.

Nyame said that exceeding budget estimates was normal when executing government projects and that “there is room for supplementary budget.’’ Justice Adebukola Banjoko adjourned the case until Oct. 12 for continuation of cross examination.

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