By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The on-going trial of former Governor of Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame, got a dramatic twist thursday, as both the accused person and a Permanent Secretary of Taraba State government, Mr. Orkuma Nev, openly accused each other of being economical with the truth.
Nyame lost his cool after the Perm Sec, while under re-examination before Justice Adebukola Banjoko of an Abuja High Court sitting at Gudu, thursday, insisted that the former governor, in 2007, ordered him to bye-pass due process and withdraw about N100million from the state treasury.
Mr. Nev told the court that the money was part of the fund used by Nyame to organise a reception for former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he visited the state to commission a project at Mambila village in 2007.
The witness further insisted that three separate memos were raised for the illegal withdrawals, adding that the embattled ex-governor instructed him to transfer the funds from Jalingo to the Taraba State liaison office in Abuja to avoid unnecessary attention.
According to him, “I severally received instructions from his Excellency to withdraw money from Taraba State account and transfer it to the liaison office in Abuja. Sometimes, I do it myself or I will send the cashier, Mr Joel Andrew, to post the money.
“In April 11, 2007, I complied with his order and raised three different memos for a total of N100 million, meant for the hosting of President Obasanjo. I took the memos to his office at Government House and he approved the payment vouchers.
“My lord, I obeyed him because if I didn’t, serious disciplinary actions would have been taken against me,” he added.
Nyame alleges political persecution
Meanwhile, the embattled ex-governor thursday alleged that the Perm Sec was sponsored by his political opponents to fabricate lies against him, even as he accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of witch-hunting him unnecessarily.
Nyame further dared the anti-graft agency to go ahead and produce receipts showing where he signed for all the alleged illicit withdrawals from Taraba State’s treasury.
Further hearing on the case was thursday adjourned till January 10, 2011.
It would be recalled that Nyame is answering to a 41-criminal count criminal charge bothering on fraud, misappropriation and criminal breach of trust.
He was accused of withdrawing about N1.6 billion from the Taraba State account between January 2005 and May 2007.
His offence according to the EFCC is punishable under Section 115, 309 and 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 laws of Federation of Nigeria 1990.
The ex-governor was specifically interrogated by the anti-graft agency on 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.
He had gone to the Supreme Court with a view to quash the entire criminal charges filed against him by the EFCC, but has turned down by the apex court on March 5, 2010.
Part of the allegation against him was that he also pocketed N180million out of N250million meant for the purchase of stationery by the Taraba State Government between January and February 2005, as a reward for the award of the contract to a company, USAB International (Nig.) Ltd.