June 27, 2019

Alleged N6.2bn fraud: Jang objects attempt to tender personal bank statements

Jonah Jang

Jonah Jang

Jos – Former Plateau governor Jonah Jang on Thursday objected attempts by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission’ (EFCC), to tender the statements of his two personal bank accounts in court, as evidences against him.

Jonah Jang

Jonah Jang

The EFCC had dragged Jang before Justice Daniel Longji of Plateau High Court IV, Jos over alleged fraud involving N6.2 billion said to have been committed when he governed the North-Central state between 2007 and 2015.

At the hearing of the case on Thursday, counsel to EFCC, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), called his 10th Prosecution Witness (PW10), through whom he attempted to tender some statements of accounts belonging to the former governor.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that it is the second time Jang was contesting attempts to submit documents against him, the first being when he kicked against the submission of “highly classified documents” from the office of the Secretary to the Government.

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The document was said to have captured the minutes of state security and executive council meetings of 2014 and 2015.

Jang’s objection was, however, to no avail as the judge ruled in favour of the anti-graft agency on resumption of hearing of the matter on Thursday, June 27.

NAN reports that Jang, who had lost the attempt to stop the admission of the classified documents, again objected the attempt to tender the statements of his two bank accounts at First City Monument Bank plc (FCMB).

Jacobs had wanted to, through Mr Kichime Gomwalk, FCMB Branch Manager, Jos tender four letters from the bank to the commission with the bank accounts statements attached.

But Jang, through his lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), told the court that by section 90 of the Evidence Act, such documents could not be tendered before the court without meeting some conditions.

“My Lord, we are objecting to the attempt to submit the document because section 90 (1e) of the Evidence Act says that before such documents can be tendered, a foundation must first be laid.

“We are saying that for the prosecution not to have complied with that provision of the law, such documents can’t be tendered or admitted in evidence.

“Even section 84 of the Evidence Act also stipulates that such documents must be certified before they could be admissible. The Supreme Court made categorical pronouncements on such matter,” Ozekhome argued.

Ozekhome, who was represented by Mr Benson Igbanoi, argued further: “Details on accounts statements must be issued showing how they were printed from the computer system and well certified before any statement of account of a customer can be accepted in evidence in court.”

Also objecting, Mr Samuel Oguntuyi, counsel to second accused, Mr Yusuf Pam, told the court that the prosecution counsel was aware that by virtue of sections 83 and 84 of the Evidence Act, he could not tender such documents to the court.

Oguntuyi urged the court to reject the bank statements adding that even if they were accepted, they should be marked as ‘rejected’ documents”.

“Again, the PW10 is not the originator of the documents as clearly seen on them. One Mrs. Christina Olaitan and one Mr Ahmed printed the statements, and not Gomwalk.

“Gomwalk can’t be the right person to tender the statements since he is not its originator by law. So, l wish to urge your Lordship to reject the documents,” he pleaded.

But Jacobs, the EFCC counsel, opined that from the defense counsel’s points of arguments, they were only objecting to the tendering of the bank statements of Jang, and not the four letters written by the FCMB to EFCC.

“My Lord, section 146 of the evidence Act says that as long as a document is being tendered by an official from such an organisation, it is okay and admissible.

“Mr Gomwalk is a Branch Manager of FCMB and is, therefore, qualified to tender any document that emanated from the bank as stipulated by law.

“I hereby urge your Lordship to disregard the arguments put up by the defense counsels and admit the documents in question, as part of our evidences against the accused,” Jacobs pleaded.

After listening to the arguments of all the parties, Justice Longji adjourned the case to July 10 and July 11 for ruling and continuation of hearing. (NAN)