The trial of Senator Danjuma Goje, a former governor of Gombe State, on charges bordering on conspiracy and money laundering, continued on September 26, 2017 with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) presenting four more witnesses, who testified as the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th witnesses.
Goje is standing trial along with Aliyu El-Nafaty, S.M. Dokoro and Sabo Muhammad Tumu, before Justice Babatunde Quadri, of the Federal High Court, sitting in Jos, Plateau State, for allegedly embezzling state funds.
They are alleged to have engaged in financial impropriety, including the contract of food supply to the state government house, during Goje’s tenure, and loan facilities obtained from banks.
Prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu, through the 15th witness, Adamu Mohammed Misau, Assistant Director, Finance and Account, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), tendered several documents to prove its case against them.
Documents tendered included the certified true copy of the March 2006 federal government’s approved guidelines for accessing and utilization of the FGN UBE Intervention Fund, and the certified true copy of the Federal Ministry of Education’s circular dated September 9, 2008 relating to the disbursement formula of the FG’s two per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund as intervention to the UBE program.
Misau read to the court, conditions stipulated in the document, required for accessing the UBE matching grant by states, and told the court that he was in charge of disbursement of state funds,.
Under cross-examination, Misau noted that supply of dictionaries was not covered by the guidelines.
“Under the guidelines, the State Universal Basic Education Board, cannot supply dictionaries as that would amount to overstepping their bounds,” he said.
He further told the court that, according to the guidelines, “SUBEB must establish a Due Process Committee, which must include Chairman of the Board, Board Secretary, Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Director of Finance, UBEC representative, and Procurement Officer, as members”.
Shittu, further confronted the witness, with exhibits P and P1, which indicated that the Gombe State SUBEB advertised for supply of textbooks to schools in the state, whereas the action plans sent to UBEC related to supply of dictionaries.
“The provisions of the guidelines are sacrosanct and inviolable, and not even UBEC can waive the conditions stipulated in the guidelines,” he said.
Testifying as the 16th prosecution witness, Saliu Sambo, Director of Admin and Finance in the state, gave evidence as regards details of food supply from 2003 and 2011 under Goje’s administration.
The prosecution, through the witness, made references to exhibits AAA1 to AAA6 and BBB1 to BBB2, which confirmed evidence of payments with respect to food supplied to the State Government House, shown in another document tendered in evidence, and admitted as exhibit CCC.
Sambo confirmed that money was paid to the contractor engaged to supply food to the Government House, who happens to be the cousin to Goje.
“The total money paid to the food contractor covering the period between 2003 to 2011 is N1,451,682,518.6 and it consists of various payments to the contractor ranging from the sum of N500,000,” he said.
Mohammed Balbaya, cashier to the Government House, who testified as the 17th witness, confirmed amount paid to the food contractor.
“It was my duty to prepare the cheques based on approval from the Accountant-General for payment to the food contractor, and photocopies of all cheques are available,” he said.
The statement by Balbaya, in which he confirmed his testimony during interrogation, was tendered in evidence, and admitted by the court.
Justice Quadri, also admitted as exhibit AAAA2 “Guidelines for Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria and Federal Government of Nigeria”, which was tendered in evidence through Yetunde Ofili, Principal Manager, Development Finance Department of Central Bank of Nigeria, who testified as the 18th witness.
Ofili also confirmed payment of N1 billion to the state during Goje's administration.
“Any change in the use of the facility must be approved in writing by the Central Bank of Nigeria to the participating banks before same can be upheld,” Ofili added.
Justice Quadri has adjourned further proceedings to November 20 and 21, 2017.