A prosecution witness in the trial of former Plateau State governor, Jonah Jang, has given details of how about N2 billion was withdrawn at various times from the government’s account.
The acting spokesman of the EFCC, Tony Orilade, in a statement, said Jang was standing trial along with Yusuf Pam, a cashier, for an alleged N6.3 billion fraud before Justice Daniel Longji of a Plateau State High Court. Jang is being accused of abusing his office and misappropriating state funds.
Orilade said the witness, Emmanuel Kpanja, a staff of Zenith Bank Plc, Bukuru branch, Jos, led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), narrated how in 2007, the account of the Plateau State Office was opened along with that for the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, OSSG Special Cabinet Savings Account, for which he became the relationship manager.
According to Orilade, Kpanja gave details of how several sums of money were withdrawn from the account: “On January 21, 2015, N10 million was withdrawn 31 times along with N7.3 million and N3.4 million amounting to N310 million, and the following day, January 22, N10 million was withdrawn 16 times along with N5 million twice, amounting to N170 million. On January 30, N10 million was withdrawn 21 times from Plateau State Government Project 1 Account on same day amounting N210 million.
“On March 17, 2015 there was a withdrawal of N8. 5 million and N10 million withdrawn 26 times making N268.5 million, all cheques collected by Yusuf Pam.
“On March 16, 2015, there were series of transactions involving several deposits made to the account, two deposits of N45 million, N75 million, N8 million, N17 million, N100 million and N165 million, and all the credits came from Plateau State Government Account.
“On March 20, 2015, N150 million was withdrawn seven times totalling over N1 billion from the Plateau State Government Account, and they were all withdrawn by Pam on the same day.
“There was also a memo dated April 2, 2015 for N150 million being request for classified expenditure from the Government Office.”
The EFCC acting spokesman said the witness also testified that “On May 26, 2016, there was a further withdrawal of N10 million 10 times, making a debit of N100 million by Pam and the account was closed after the letter addressing all ministries, departments and parastatal to implement the Treasury Single Account, TSA by the current administration.”
Earlier in the course of proceedings, when Jacobs sought to tender in evidence, the account opening forms and letter of identification for the OSSG Cabinet and Special Services Account with Zenith Bank, and OSSG Overhead Account with same bank, counsel for Jang, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) objected to the admissibility of the documents, arguing that they were not made by Kpanja.
Justice Longji, however, overruled the objection, noting that the argument that the person who signed the document must appear in court does not have any legal backing by the Evidence Act.
“To say that we should not admit the documents in court because the witness is not the maker of the document, is like saying we should throw away the baby with the baby napkin because the napkin was soiled, and so I hereby admit the documents as Exhibits B23 and B24,” the trial judge held.