The trial of a former Plateau State governor, Jonah Jang, continued Wednesday with a prosecution witness, Emmanuel Kpanja, giving details of how about N2 billion was withdrawn at various times from the Plateau State Government’s account.
Jang is standing trial on a 12-count charge along with Yusuf Pam, a cashier, for an alleged N6.3 billion fraud before Justice Daniel Longji of a Plateau State High Court. Jang is accused of abusing his office and misappropriating state funds.
In his examination-in-chief, Kpanja gave details of how several sums of money were withdrawn from the state government’s account. Kpanja, a staff of Zenith Bank Plc, Bukuru branch, Jos, is testifying as the third witness.
Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, Kpanja narrated how in 2007, the account of the Plateau State Office was opened along with that for the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, OSSG Special Cabinet Savings Account, which he became the Relationship Manager.
He said: “On 21 January 2015, N10 million was withdrawn 31 times along with N7.3 million and N3.4 million amounting to N310 million, and the following day, January 22, N10 million was withdrawn 16 times along with N5 million twice, amounting to N170 million. And on January 30, N10 million was withdrawn 21 times from Plateau State Government Project 1 Account on same day amounting N210 million.
“On March 17, 2015 there was a withdrawal of N8. 5 million and N10 million withdrawn 26 times making N268.5 million all cheques collected by Yusuf Pam.
“On March 16, 2015 there were series of transactions involving several deposits made to the account two deposits of N45 million, N75 million, N8 million, N17 million, N100 million, N165 million and all the credits came from Plateau State Government Account.
“On March 20, 2015 N150 million was withdrawn seven times totalling over N1 billion also received on the account from the Plateau State Government Account, and they were all withdrawn by Pam on the same day.
“There was also a memo dated April 2, 2015 for N150 million being request for classified expenditure from the Government Office.
“On May 26, 2016 there was a further withdrawal of N10 million withdrawn 10 times making a debit of N100 million by Pam and the account was closed after the letter addressing all ministries, departments and parastatal to implement the Treasury Single Account, TSA by the current administration.”
Earlier in the course of proceedings, when Jacobs sought to tender in evidence, the account opening forms and letter of identification for OSSG Cabinet and Special Services Account with Zenith Bank, and OSSG Overhead Account with same bank, counsel for Jang, Mike Ozekhome, SAN objected to the admissibility of the documents, arguing that they were not made by Kpanja.
Justice Longji, however, overruled the objection, noting that the argument that the person who signed the document must appear in court does not have any legal backing as stipulated by the Evidence Act.
“To say that we should not admit the documents in court because the witness is not the maker of the document, is like saying we should throw away the baby with the baby napkin because the napkin was soiled, and so I hereby admit the documents as Exhibits B23 and B24,” the trial judge held.