The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on October 3, 2017, confronted a former Taraba State Governor, Jolly Nyame, with documents challenging his testimony in court, and his claim that he was never involved in state transactions, which formed the basis of his N1.64 billion fraud trial.
Nyame, who took to the dock to defend himself, after Justice Adebukola Banjoko, of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, Gudu, on February 14, 2017, dismissed his “no-case” submission, had exonerated himself during his evidence-in-chief, led by his counsel, Olalekan Ojo, denying all the charges.
Testifying as the 4th defence witness, Nyame had on September 20, 2017 described as “the figment of his imagination”, testimony of the 8th prosecution witness, Abdulrahman Mohammed, an accountant with the state, who in court testified that he brought N24.3 million cash “meant for purchase of grains” to the former governor.
“I did not collect the sum of N24.3 million meant for grains from Abdulrahman the accountant,” Nyame said, admitting that he signed a memo raised to purchase grains to alleviate sufferings of the people in the state.
The allegation of the diversion of N24.3 million formed one of the 41 counts bordering on stealing and diversion of state funds brought against Nyame by the EFCC, in a trial that began in 2007. Trial of the three-time governor, recommenced September 27, 2016, after the trial judge ruled in favor of the prosecution, dismissing Nyame’s challenge of the admissibility of his statements dated June 6 and 7, 2007 and July 11, 2007
Confronting him with exhibit DD, which included the memo raised for the purchase of the grains by Japheth Wubon (the 5th prosecution witness), permanent secretary, Liaison Office, Abuja, on the orders of Nyame, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, averred that Nyame was not truthful in his evidence-in-chief.
Under cross-examination, Nyame admitted that the memo for N24.3 million was raised and approved by him. Reading from the document, he told the court that “the money was to be released to Wubon, the liaison officer, Abuja, who was supposed to buy the grains listed in the memo.”
However, reading further the content of the memo, Nyame testified to the fact that “no person received the money”, and that “no amount was stated there by the receiver, also no date that the receiver received the money”, and “no official name on the document.”
“From your instruction in the memo and discussions, who was supposed to receive the money?” Jacobs asked.
Nyame responding told the court, that Wubon was supposed to receive the money to purchase the grains.
“This voucher, therefore, confirms that he did not receive the money and he did not buy any grains as testified by PW5,” Jacobs said.
Admitting to that fact as contained in the voucher, Nyame said, “Nobody received the money and according to my position as a governor, after giving approval, I wouldn’t know the details of what happened after, because I expected the Permanent Secretary to act on the memo”.
Jacobs, further, confronted Nyame, with the statements he made to the EFCC in 2007 marked exhibit Z6, referring him to the paragraphs in which he responded to the issue of purchase of grains, during interrogation by EFCC operatives.
In his statement, Nyame admitted that: “On the issue of purchase of grains for onward distribution to local governments at my approval, the rice was purchased from Lagos from a supplier, but I cannot remember the name of the company and N24.3 million was paid to the supplier in cash, and grains delivered.”
He could not, however, give the name of the supplier in court, prompting Jacobs to stress that: “Ten years after, you have failed to supply the details of the supplier of the grains”.
While being pressured on his statement that cash was paid for the grains, despite fact that the receiver of the money was not stated in the voucher, Nyame told the court that he wrote down “what they told me”, stressing that he was not the one that executed the project.
“Since you did not engage in the distribution of the grains to the Taraba people, did you ask for documents to show the distribution, throughout your tenure, did you ask Wubon for details,” Jacobs queried.
Nyame, simply said: “There was no need because there was no problem, and so I did not ask.”