A former Governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, on Thursday, closed his defence in his ongoing trial on 41 counts of criminal misappropriation of the state’s N1.64bn preferred against him before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja.
He was the last defence witness to testify before closing his case before Justice Adebukola Banjoko on Thursday.
While being cross-examined by the counsel prosecuting for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Nyame justified his approval of a total sum of N450m for the purchase of stationery for in less than two months during his tenure in office.
Fielding questions from Jacobs, he said he approved a memo on December 12, 2004 requesting for N250m for the purchase of stationery and the money was released on January 4, 2005.
He also confirmed that about a month after the release of the sum of N250m, he also approved another memo requesting for N200m for the purchase of additional stationery.
He said the cheque for the N200m was cashed on February 14, 2005 by one Abdulkadir Umar, who was an employee of the state’s Ministry of Finance.
Asked if it was reasonable for the state to release all these funds for stationery within a year, Nyame said, “It is normal because I give approval to memos based on requirements and needs of the ministry requesting.”
The prosecution alleged that out of the N200m, the sum N165m was diverted by Nyame.
The prosecution added that Umar, the Ministry of Finance employee, deposited the sum of N165m in the account of Salman Global Ventures, a company carrying out a project for the state.
When Jacobs confronted the defendant with allegation of diversion of the funds and Umar’s statement in claiming that the diversion was authorised by Nyame, he (the ex-governor) said, “It is not true. I did not instruct anybody from ministry of finance to transfer funds to the account of Salman Global.”
He further denied the allegation that he ordered that the Chief Store Officer of the state should be queried when the officer questioned the whereabouts of the funds for the stationery.
“I would be surprised to hear that the Chief Store Officer said he did not see any stationery bought with the N250m, but I did not know anything about the query except now in court,” he said.
Earlier, Nyame confirmed that at a time, he approved N1m for himself as Duty Tour Allowance before his trip to South Africa while he approved N15,000 for each of the 12 policemen and four SSS officials with him.
He said he approved N35,000 for each of the three public officers with him and N22,500 for his orderly, while each of the 10 drivers with him got N20,000 for the five days they spent in Abuja before the trip.