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I wrote statements against Jang under duress, witness tells court

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By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – The star prosecution witness, Mr. Habila Gwom, brought to Jos High Court by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to testify in the ongoing corruption trial of a former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang, has accused the EFCC of putting him under pressure to make statements that he would not have willingly made.

Jang being arraigned in court in Jos

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According to him, “I don’t even know what to say; I made the statements voluntarily, but I was under serious pressure, having been kept in detention for about a week. The pressure was much that I said some things that I shouldn’t have said, but because of the pressure on me; like the bank statement.”

Gwom, then a Permanent Secretary who served under Jang’s administration from December 2014 to September, 2015 was under cross-examination by the lead counsel to the Senator, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN).

His testimonies and document presented to the court during cross-examination revealed withdrawals from the state government accounts for security purposes from the Jang administration down to Governor Simon Lalong’s administration, during which he also served briefly before he was retired. This followed similar patterns where several tranches of N10 million were withdrawn too.

Gwom also revealed that records of such monies withdrawn for security purposes were not properly kept by him because that was the norm he met on ground when he resumed the office, adding that after Jang left office, Lalong and his Secretary to the State Government (SSG) also raised several memos for withdrawals like it happened while Jang was Governor.

Against his initial testimony, Gwom said there was no time he personally witnessed when cash was taken to Jang, even as he said he did not also know how security funds were disbursed.

He said funds released and spent for security purposes passed through normal processes and, indeed, many departments that were not headed by the then Governor.

Adjourning the case to 5th, 6th, and 7th of March, 2019 for continuation of cross-examination, Mr. Justice Daniel Longji thanked Ozekhome and the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) for their diligence during the four days of hearing of the case, adding that “we’ve been able to do much.”


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