The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday closed its case in the alleged N6.2 billion fraud against the former governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang.
Jang and Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government (OSSG), are being prosecuted before Justice C. L. Dabup of Plateau State High Court sitting in Jos.
They are facing trial for alleged criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of Plateau State funds to the tune of N6.2 billion.
At the last sitting, the EFCC had presented its fourteenth witness (PW14), a Chief Superintendent of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offence Commission (ICPC), Taiwo Oloronyomi, who testified against the defendants.
While tendering the statement in evidence, the second defendant’s counsel, S. Olawale, raised an objection, arguing that the statement of his client to the ICPC was not voluntary as he was subjected to physical and psychological torture by one Hajiya Fatima Mohammed of the ICPC. This prompted the court to order a trial within trial.
Ruling on the trial within a trial on Tuesday, Justice Dabup admitted in evidence the statement that the second defendant made on November 17, 2016, to the ICPC. The crux of the statement pertained to the withdrawal of monies through cheques approved by the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Secretary to the State government, which was taken to the first defendant (Jang).
The judge, however, rejected the statement made on November 23, 2016, saying that the mandatory cautionary word was not taken before the second defendant volunteered to write his statement.
After the prosecution closed its case, the defendants were expected to open their defence on June 1, 2022. However, their counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and S. Olewale informed the court of their decision not to do so.
“We humbly intend to rely on the case of the prosecution because we believe and submit it is irredeemable, battered and drained of existential blood. We do not need to open any case for evidence in order not to waste the precious time of this honourable court,” Ozekhome said.
Citing section 301(3) of the Plateau State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2018, he said: “If we are not providing any evidence, the law says that the prosecution has fourteen (14) days to address the court, and ten( 10) days for the defence to reply, and another five (5 days) for the prosecution to reply on point of law”.
Thereafter, the judge adjourned the matter to July 1 for the adoption of final written addresses.