Abuja high court sitting at Gudu, has said that Reverend Jolly Nyame, has a case to answer. This was made known on Tuesday.
Reverend Jolly Nyame, former Governor of Taraba State, was accused of looting public funds to the tune of N1.64billion. The court held that Nyame has a criminal case to answer.
The court said it was satisfied that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has established a prima-facie case capable of warranting the former governor to enter his defence to a 41-count money laundering charge pending against him.
Therefore, the trial Justice Adebukola Banjoko ordered Nyame to be prepared to enter his defence before the high court on March 8.
The Judge further dismissed a no-case-submission which was earlier made by the defendant, who contended that EFCC failed to nail him to the alleged fraud, by way of credible evidence.
“having had a close look at the evidence and exhibits, I hold that this case requires the defendant to provide information and give explanation with regards to evidence presented by the prosecution, and so he is ordered to enter into his defence in the interest of justice”, Justice Banjoko held.
It should be noted that Jolly Nyame had on January 18, through his lawyer, Mr. Charles Edosomwan, SAN, prayed the court to strike out the charge and discharge him on the basis that the prosecution was unable to effectively discharge the burden of proof placed on it by the law.
While ruling on Tuesday, Justice Banjoko held that Nyame’s contention was lacking merit. The court said the defendant has questions to answer regarding allegation that he diverted public funds while he was the governor of Taraba state.
EFCC called14 witnesses that testified against the defendant, before closing its case on November 22, 2016. The prosecution told the court that the former governor perpetuated the fraud between January 2005 and May 2007.
The trial culminated from a petition jointly signed by one Umar Baba and Kelas Obadia, entitled “Taraba State in a mess, the Commissioner of Finance goofed” written on behalf of concerned citizens of the state. Nyame whose trial commenced since 2005, earlier went to the Supreme Court to quash charges against him. The supreme court had turned his request down on March 5, 2010.
His accusations include, diverting N180million out of N250million meant for the purchase of stationeries by Taraba State government between January and February 2005, as a reward for the award of the contract to USAB International (Nig.) Ltd and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 115, 309 and 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 laws of Federation of Nigeria 1990.
Those that testified before the court were former finance commissioner in Taraba State during his administration, Mr. Abubakar Tutare, a compliance officer with Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Olubunmi Ogunode, as well as the Permanent Secretary to Taraba State government, Mr Dennis Okuma Nev.
Nev told the court that he was at a time, compelled to raise three separate memos for the withdrawal of N100m, which he said was used by Nyame to host former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he visited the state in 2001.
Also an Accountant with the Rural Electrification Board in Jalingo, Taraba State, Mr. Abdulrahman Mohammed, narrated before the court, how the ex-governor used his name to withdraw N282m from Zenith Bank PLC, using 20 separate cheques. Mohammed said theillegal transactions took place between 2005 and 2007 when he was an accountant in charge of Taraba State liaison office in Abuja.