Jonah Jang, former Governor of Plateau State, has formally announced his decision to join the 2019 presidential race on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Flanked by his wife and supporters, Jang made the declarartion on Tuesday at the secretariat of the party in Jos, capital of Plateau State.
The announcement comes three months after Jang, who is currently representing Plateau North in the National Assembly, spent nine days at the detention facility of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and was subsequently remanded in Jos Prison for another eight days for allegedly mismanaging N6.3billion towards the end of his governorship tenure.
In May, EFCC arraigned Jang before Justice Daniel Longji of the Plateau State High Court sitting in Jos on a 12-count charge bordering on misappropriation of funds to the tune of N6.3billion.
He was alleged to have embezzled special funds released to the state by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), just before the end of his governorship tenure in 2015.
Specifically, Jang allegedly pocketed N2billion released by the CBN for disbursement to small and medium enterprises in the state under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Funds (MSMEDF) just a month before the expiration of his tenure in April 2015.
He was also said to have abused his office by collecting money to the tune of N4.3billion from the state coffers through the cashier of the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Yusuf Gyang Pam.
Jang was docked alongside Pam, who was also accused of using his office for personal enrichment to the tune of N11.5million.
Count eight of the charge read: “That you, Senator Jonah David Jang, whilst being the Governor of Plateau State between January and May, 2015 in Jos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, used your office as Executive Governor of Plateau State to confer unfair advantage upon yourself by collecting the sum of N4,357,195,000 (Four billion, Three Hundred and Fifty-Seven Million, One Hundred and Ninety-Five Thousand Naira) from the cashier of the Office of the Secretary to the Plateau State Government, and which sum was derived from the account of Plateau State Government, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000”.
Jang and Pam pleaded not guilty to the charge, after which Justice Longji ordered the remand of the defendants in prison custody. They were granted bail eight days after, on May 24.
The two-time former Governor would later describe his prison experience as “a great lesson in humility".
“For me being in prison is a great lesson in humility," he said in a speech read on his behalf by Pastor Abraham Yiljap, his former Commissioner of Information, who represented him at the opening ceremony of the 94th General Church Council of Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN).
"When I was at the EFCC office in Abuja, I slept on the floor, but here in the prison I have the privilege of sleeping in the same bed that former President Olusegun Obasanjo slept in at the Jos prison.”