The N6.3 billion alleged fraud trial of the erstwhile governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, continued on Thursday at the High Court of Plateau State, in Jos, the state capital, before Justice Daniel Longi with the prosecution witness stating that the second defendant, Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in Plateau State Government House, indicted Mr Jang for corruption by his own free will.
The day’s proceedings which featured the cross-examination of a prosecution witness, Taiwo Oluwayemi, was a twist that became a trial, within trial.
It could be recalled that Mr Pam had on April 10 alleged that his statement in which he indicted Mr Jang was obtained under duress by the ICPC, prompting Justice Longi to order a trial within trial.
Mr Pam’s claim, however, followed intense cross-examination by the lead counsel to the prosecution, Rotimi Jacobs, at the last sitting.
Mr Jang and Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in the Plateau State Government House in Mr Jang’s administration, were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 12-count charge, bothering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N6.3 billion, an act contrary to, and punishable under Sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011, as amended. The money in question was said to be for the development of small and medium scale businesses in the state.
Mr Oluwayemi, the prosecution witness, is an investigator with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC.
Upon his cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, Adebisi Adeyemi, Mr Oluwayemi narrated how the ICPC received a petition, alleging fraudulent practices, mismanagement and diversion of funds by the Plateau State government under Jang, which he said, was investigated by his team, headed by Fatima Mohammed, now an ex-staff of ICPC. In the course of investigation, Mr Oluwayemi revealed that letters were forwarded to various agencies of the Plateau State government.
When asked to explain to the court if he knew Mr Pam (the second defendant), and under what circumstance his statement was obtained by the ICPC, the prosecution witness affirmed he knew Mr Pam and that he volunteered his statement to the ICPC by his free will.
He further stated that though Mr Pam was placed under arrest, he was released on bail after explaining his role in the alleged fraud involving Mr Jang, his former boss and first defendant and after fulfilling his bail conditions.
Stating the prosecution’s account of what transpired, the prosecution witness stated that: “In November 17, 2016, Pam (2nd defendant) was invited and he came to our office, and was later led to the interview room. We explained to him why he was under investigation”.
“As provided by the Act that established the ICPC, the second defendant was made to read the words of caution, after which it was read and explained to him for clarity.
“He was also asked if he would be willing to volunteer his statement, and he responded ‘yes’ willingly.”
The witness told the court that the second defendant subsequently on his own visited the ICPC office severally to provide additional information to the commission and gave several assurances that he will be willing at any point in time to provide information to assist the commission in its investigation.
It could be recalled that Mr Oluwayemi as a prosecution witness had earlier testified in the matter before the commencement of the trial, within trial.
The case was adjourned to April 26 for the continuation of trial within trial.