Jang's govt borrowed SMEs funds to execute projects - Prosecution witness

jonah Jang

Jonah Jang

Jonah Jang

Mr Sylvester Chuwang-Davou, a prosecution witness in the N6.3 billion fraud case against Sen. Jonah Jang, has said that the former Plateau governor’s administration borrowed the N2 billion CBN Small and Medium Scale funds to execute projects.

“What I know about the N2bn CBN funds meant for the Plateau Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (PLASMEDA), was that when the funds arrived, the money was transferred into the ministry of finance to meet urgent state matters.

“I was the General Manager of PLASMEDA and can testify that that was exactly what happened,” Chuwang-Davou, a retired Perm Secretary, told the Plateau State High Court trying Jang, on Tuesday in Jos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the former PLASMEDA General Manager is the fifth prosecution witness in the case brought against Jang and Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in the Plateau Government House.

The two accused persons are being tried over the alleged fraud said to have been committed between Sept. 2010 and Oct. 2014.

They are facing a 12-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering allegedly committed when Jang was the governor of the north-central state.

The EFCC, Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, is alleging that the defendants had conspired to defraud the state of the said amount (N6.3bn), via illegal acts, contrary to, and punishable under, sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011, as amended.

Chuwang-Davou, in his testimony before the presiding Judge, Justice Daniel Longji, said that the Jang administration established PLASMEDA in order to access the N2bn loan from CBN, to develop the small and medium enterprises in the state.

“But when the funds hit the account of the state in Zenith Bank, the ministry of finance borrowed the money to meet what it said were urgent state matters, which I later learnt was for execution of projects.

“Up till when Jang’s administration wound up in 2015, the money was not returned to the account of PLASMEDA and neither did any Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs), including Cooperative Societies, benefited from the funds.

“This was largely because none of the PFIs did open an account with the CBN to enable it access the funds for the purpose it was meant for,’’ Chuwang-Davou explained.

When the Prosecuting Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), asked the witness whether Jang was a signatory to either Project One Account or PLASMEDA, Chuwang-Davou replied in the negative.

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“Jang wasn’t a signatory to either of the accounts,” he declared.

During cross examination, Mr Mike Ezekhome (SAN), the defence counsel, asked the prosecution witness whether Jang ordered the N2bn to be transferred into the Project one account instead of PLASMEDA account, to which he equally replied in the negative.

“Not at all. Jang did not,” he said.

According to him, the CBN on its own transferred the funds into project one account instead of PLASMEDA account.

He further said that it was also the responsibility of CBN to ensure the meeting up of the criteria toward accessing the funds by PFIs.

“Unfortunately, none of the PFIs even applied to CBN to access the fund till the administration of Jang ended on May 28, 2015,”’ he said.

Ezekhome also asked the witness if he was aware that the N2bn fund was borrowed by Jang, to which Chuwang-Davou also replied in the negative.

“I never mentioned that money was borrowed by the ex-Governor. Jang did not borrow the money.

“I was told by the former Accountant General of the state that the money (N2 billion), was captured in Jang’s handing over notes to the present administration.

“This is because I kept following up the refund into the account of PLASMEDA until the end of the administration, but learnt that there was no funds for such,” the prosecution witness declared.

Justice Longji has adjourned the case to Wednesday, March 6, for continuation of hearing.

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