N1.3bn Scam: Nyame Told Me To Pay Contractor For Job Not Done -Withness

Jolly-Nyame

Jolly-Nyame

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Abuja, was today told how a former governor of Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame verbally queried Alhaji Maigari Umar, an official of Taraba State government House, for refusing to pay a phony contractor the sum of N200 million.

Jolly-Nyame

Nyame is standing trial over a 41 count charge bordering on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and gratification to the tune of N1.3 billion while he was holding sway as governor of Taraba State.

 

At the resumed hearing of the case today, Alhaji Umar, during a cross examination by defence counsel, Barrister Olanikan Ojo, said he was summoned by a former Commissioner of Finance in Taraba State to a hotel in Jalingo to explain why he refused to pay the contractor for non execution of a contract for the supply of stationery and office equipment.

 

“When I got to the hotel, I saw the governor, the Commissioner of Finance and a representative of the contractor. The ex-governor was about to leave when he spoke to me in Hausa, pointing to the representative of the contractor. (He repeated the Hausa words spoken to him)”. Umar was about to interpret it when the defence counsel raised an objection that he must not interpret himself.

 

But prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs countered him, arguing that Umar was at liberty to explain in English what the governor said in Hausa. This led to a protracted argument until the judge, Justice Adebunkola Banjoko, asked the court registrar, Abubakar Shehu, to do the interpretation of the Hausa words in English.

 

Shehu, in his interpretation, said it means “why did you not pay this person?”

 

Alhaji Umar also told the court how the N200 million was shared thereafter.

 

He said that of the total sum, he prepared a cheque for the sum of N35 million in the ratio of N15 million, N4 million and N16 million to a former Deputy Speaker, Taraba State House of Assembly, Alhaji Maraba Nafia; a former Personal Assistant to the Finance Commissioner and Alhaji Baba Gambo respectively.

 

The balance of N165 million was offered Salman Venture Limited, a company allegedly owned by a friend of the governor.

 

He also said that the sum of N8 million was later released to staff of the department to be shared. Of the amount, he said the former Commissioner took N2 million while N6 million was shared to other staff of the government house.

 

Justice Banjoko, after carefully listening to the testimony of the witness adjourned the case till Wednesday, 13 July 2011 for another prosecution witness to give his testimony.

 

At the last adjourned date on Tuesday, 7 June 2011, the defence counsel had argued that the defence will be in great jeopardy, should the prosecution be allowed to utilise the content of an official document not made available to the defence in prosecuting the accused person.

 

The document is meant to serve as important prosecution evidence against the accused person.

 

Defence counsel, Barrister Olanikan Ojo, had objected to the use of a memo contained in an official file which the prosecution witness, Naigari Umar, an official of Taraba State government House, made reference to in the award of a fraudulent N200 million contract.

 

Umar had, during cross examination, told the court, of an existing document contained in an official file, with an anonymous beneficiary of a contract sum of N200 million.

 

It was in an attempt by the prosecution counsel, Barrister Rotimi Jacobs, to tender the said memo before the court that the defence counsel, Ojo objected and said that the civil liability of the accused person was dependent upon the terms of the contract.

 

“It has not been demonstrated that the accused person was a party to the document in question, tendering the document before the court therefore is manifestly irrelevant and inapplicable,” he argued.

 

Barrister Jacobs, while referring to Section 134 of the Evidence Act, told the court that it was not possible to give an oral evidence of a document not yet tendered before the court.

 

He also said that the witness statement had been forwarded to the defence counsel for more than three years now.

 

“The issue of ambush or surprise therefore is uncalled for. What the witness has said is in line with his statement he made three years ago,” he said.

 

Count one reads, “That you, JOLLY TEVORU NYAME between January and February, 2005 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, while being the Governor of Taraba State of Nigeria and in such capacity entrusted with dominion over certain property to wit: the sum of N250 million meant for the purchase of stationery by the Taraba State Government committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said sum and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 1990”.

 

Count 2 “That you Jolly Tevoru Nyame between January and February, 2005 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, while being the Governor of Taraba State of Nigeria and in such capacity entrusted with dominion over certain properties to wit: funds meant for the purchase of stationery by the Taraba State Government committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said funds by collecting the sum of N180 million from the entire sum for your personal use and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of Federation of Nigeria 1990”.

 

Count 6 reads, “That you Jolly Tevoru Nyame on or about 14th February, 2005 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory while being the Governor of Taraba State of Nigeria and in such capacity entrust with dominion over certain properties to wit: the sum of N165 million, committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said sum and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 laws of Federation of Nigeria 1990”.