Nyame Approved Withdrawal of N330M Without Due Process - Witness

Source: OUR REPORTER. - thewillnigeria.com
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San Francisco, June 24, (THEWILL) - A principal witness in the on-going corruption trial instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC against former governor of Taraba State, Rev. Jolly Nyame, Mr. Dennis Orkuma Nev, a Permanent Secretary in the Taraba State Government House told Justice Adebunkola Banjoko of the FCT High Court how the former governor unilaterally raised and approved the sum of one hundred million naira (N100, 000,000), for the visit of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to the state, without following normal processes of disbursing funds.

Nev said that memos for the amount were raised on a single day, 11th April 2007, and payment vouchers approved at the government house rather than the ministry of finance.

Besides, Nev also disclosed how over two hundred million naira (N200, 000, 000) was withdrawn by some officials of both the Taraba State Government House, specifically, the cashier, Joel Andrew and the then Taraba State liaison officer, in Abuja for the governor’s private use.

He also disclosed that a memo was brought to him for approval for the release of Thirty Million Naira (N30, 000,000) to the state PDP Chairman who sought for financial assistance.

Attempts made by the defence counsel, Charles Edosonwan to challenge the admissibility of the memos presented as exhibits on the ground of certification was overruled by Justice Banjoko.  He had argued that tendering the documents contravenes some sections of the Evidence Act and that the witness cannot be the certifier at the same time. He further said that the witness had been in possession of the exhibits for too long a time such that its authenticity can be questioned. He also faulted the exhibits on the ground that they were not sealed.

However, Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs argued that the prosecution had complied with two of the requirements of Section 111 of the Act and that the issue of sealing of the exhibit was not a pre-qualification but conditional. He averred that once the exhibit has the date of certification, name of the officer certifying, amount paid, and official title of the officer, it is deemed enough certification.

In her ruling, Justice Banjoko said that "It is clear that reason of certification is to enable admissibility. It is clear really that the document is not sealed but substantial requirement has been made. The attitude to shift the onus from a narrow technicality is not to be allowed."

When asked if taking the money approved by the governor personally to him was a normal practice, the witness said, "As a permanent Secretary, it is not normal, but each assignment has its own peculiar way of tackling it, so this one was the way it was handled."

A staff of Zenith Bank who is also a prosecution witness had on Tuesday narrated how aides of the former governor made cash lodgements of hundreds of millions of naira in a coded account on behalf of Nyame. After Nev’s testimony, the trial judge adjourned continuation of trial to tomorrow, Friday, June 25, 2010.