Taraba Accountant-General remanded in prison over alleged N1.56bn fraud

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BY SONI DANIEL

Jalingo—The Taraba State Accountant–General, Joel Lengbang was yesterday remanded in a Jalingo prison over alleged stealing of N1.56 billion belonging to the state.

The man was charged before Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court, Jalingo by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on an 8-count charge bordering on obtaining by false pretence, offences contrary to and punishable under the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.

However, when the charges were reeled out, Lengbang pleaded not guilty.
The fraud came to light following a petition received from a concerned Taraba State indigene, sometime in February 2014, alleging massive looting of Taraba state funds by the state accountant general.

The petition triggered investigation of the lifestyle of some of the officers mentioned in the petition and who were believed to be living above their means.
The investigation led to the discovery of systematic and sustained withdrawal of state funds through a scheme mastermind by the accused.

The suspect allegedly made the huge withdrawals were under the guise of making sundry payments on behalf of ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, as well as payment of bank charges and Value Added Tax, VAT on a monthly basis.

Investigations by the EFCC revealed that between 2012 and 2013, Lengbang had withdrawn and stashed away the sum of N1.567 billion from the state treasury.
In view of the plea of the accused, prosecuting counsel, Al Qasim Ja’afar applied for a date to commence trial.

But Counsel to accused, Abayomi Akamode, informed the court that he had filed a motion for bail this morning and urged the court hear it.
However, Al Qasim told the court that he was just served the motion on notice in court and would need time to peruse and respond appropriately.

Justice Okorowo adjourned the case till July 11 for hearing of the bail application and remanded the accused in prison custody.

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