By: Valentine Adese (JP),
The former Plateau State governor and Senator that, represented the good people of Plateau North Senatorial District at the upper chambers of the National Assembly, Sen. Jonah David Jang, was all smiles today, as the recalled witnesses of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) gave further evidence with respect to the Amended Charge against him, at the Plateau State High Court.
You would recall that, the EFCC had amended the charge against, Sen. Jonah David Jang and a Cashier in the office of the Secretary to the Plateau State Government (SSG), Mr. Yusuf Pam, over alleged misuse, misappropriation and looting of Plateau State funds, by also adopting a style of “Transferred by Approval”, according to counts 13, 14, 16 and 17 of the amended charge.
However, during the hearing today, the EFCC witnesses seem to be exonerating the Senator, over alleged by “Transferred by Approvals”.
The first witness, to be reexamined was PW1, a Director with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He told the court presided over by Hon. Justice Daniel Longji that, they transferred over N2billion, to Plateau State Project1 Account nominated by the Senator, then the Governor of Plateau State, meant for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and ignored the Account sent to them by Plateau State Small and Medium Scale Agency, as addressed to the CBN Governor by the General Manager of the Agency.
According to him, they decided to transfer the money of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to the Account, Sen. Jang nominated because, as the Governor, he was the state Accounting Officer.
Although the witness claimed he cannot recall if he ever had any face to face meeting with Sen. Jang, he said the transfer from the CBN, was done electronically to where Plateau State Project1 Account is domicile.
He however said though the procedure on the transfer starts from his department to the Banking Service Department, he does not know what happens from there.
The witness told the court that, “I do not know who signed the transfer mandates”.
Speaking on exhibit P12, which was written by Jang to the CBN Governor, which he read to the open court, the witness told the court that Jang’s request was approved by the CBN Management.
He said, “I have seen P15 and the 6th page. It is titled CBN Internal Memo. I wrote the memo, to the CBN Governor. The subject was for him to approve the distribution of the N2billion to the SMEs.
“In the last part of the Memo, I recommended to Management to approve the transfer. It is the Management of the CBN that makes Approvals. I don’t have the minutes of this approval because, there was no minute and as a Director, I am not part of the Management and so, cannot speak on their behalf. Whatever I did with the MoU, I did it as a representative of the CBN. As I said before, the money so transferred was also not to the Account of the 2nd Respondent, Mr. Yusuf Pam”.
Collapsing the allegation of Transferred by Approval further, the former Manager of Zenith Bank Jos, Mr. Uchenna Igwe, who was recalled for further Cross-examination, under the probing hands of Edward Pwajok (SAN), leading, Banson Igbnoi (Esq) and Olivia Dazem among other Lawyers, told the court that, “Exhibit P36 is a document written to the Management of the Bank concerning E-payment Mandates. They are in respect of transactions with my Bank, when I was there. I have seen the names of my colleagues on the document and I can confirm that these my colleagues signed exhibit P26.
“All the transfers were for N150million each. Apart from the E-payment, we never used any other form of instrument to transfer money out of our Bank.
“With respect to exhibit P26, and the transfers therein, there was no instruction for transfer by the 1st Defendant, Sen. Jang, who was then the governor.
“I have also seen exhibit P29A. I was not given this document in order to effect payments.
“As the Manager, if I was given exhibit P29A, I would not have acted on it because, the person who signed it is not a signatory to the Account, even if it were the Senator then as governor, I would not have acted on it.
“I have also seen exhibits P26 and the cheque and documents attached to it, but the 1st Defendants signature is not on them. I have also seen exhibit P36. This has to do with the N2billion transfer. The 1st Defendant Jonah Jang still did not sign it and he did not in any way instruct me to effect the transfer of the N2billion”.
“I have further look at P26 and all its entries of transfers and the 1st Defendant’s name did not make any transfer.
Corroborating the positions already established, the recalled Director of Finance and Supply (DFS), to the State Basic Education Board (SUBEB), told the court under reexamination from Pwajok (SAN) that, it was the Board that does approvals and that she only effect transfers based on the directives of the Chairman of the Board, Mrs. Yop Mann and not the approvals of Sen. Jang, then as governor.
While answering the series of question put to her, the DFS said:-
“I have seen P43, 44 and 45. On P44, my signature is there and I can recognize the document.
“The letter is addressed to the office of the governor of plateau state and it is dated 5th March, 2015. It is a request for approval to borrow fund from SUBEB. The letter is signed by the Commissioner of Finance and addressed to the governor, Jonah Jang. Jang simply wrote approved, signed with his initials and dated it, but wrote no further.
“The Ministry of Finance now sent the letter to the Accountant General to treat urgently. A letter was then sent to the Executive Chairman of SUBEB, with the Title, “Request For Approval to Borrow some Funds”. The Chairman minute to the Secretary of the Board, stating that, “The sum of N750million is approved, based on the N1billion requested and this is less than the requested sum. I have seen the minute of the secretary to where he directed me as the DFS to process the approval.
“I have seen exhibits, P43 and 45, they are all written to the governor of Plateau state and they are all requests to borrow and the governor only minute approved only, signed and wrote his initials.
“I have seen exhibit P43. I was the one that transferred the N750million, but I was not the DFS when the N2billion was transferred. It was my predecessor that did that transfer.
“Exhibit P44, is that of the N750million. I did the transfer on the instruction of the Executive Chairman of the Board, Mrs. Yop Mann.
“Exhibit P45, is concerning the N400million. It was the Chairman that also instructed me to transfer it to the Plateau State Project1 Account and not to Jang’s Account. Secondly, the N400million is less than the sum of N1billion requested. This was also based on approval of SUBEB and not the 1st Defendant.
The hearing continues tomorrow, 31st October, 2019.