October 11, 2019

EFCC vs Jang: Court adjourns to Friday

Jonah Jang

Ex-Governor of Plateau state, Jonah Jang

By Marie-Therese Nanlong, Jos

The matter of alleged embezzlement of about N6.2 billion by the former Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang has been adjourned to Friday (11/10/19) for ruling on the application brought before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to amend some of the charges earlier leveled against Jang.

Ex-Governor of Plateau state, Jonah Jang

At the continuation of hearing on Thursday, the counsel to EFCC, Adebisi Adeniyi told the court that the attention of the court was drawn to the amended charges which was why the case was adjourned to yesterday for Jang and his co-defendants to take their pleas.
Counsel to the Jang,  Mr. Edward Pwajok (SAN) confirmed that he was served with the amended charges by the prosecution on September 30, whereby he, on behalf of the first defendant, filed a counter-motion on notice to the court on October 8 stressing that his application sought to quash some of the paragraphs of the amended charges which he considered offensive and vexatious.
Pwajok noted that the reason for his objection to the amended charges was because Jang was just asked to take a plea for an offence he did not commit and that was not known to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Adeniyi urged the court not to entertain the application of the defence, but Justice Daniel Longji cut in, saying that an application had been placed before the court, adding that no matter what, it must be entertained and heard.
On the note, Pwajok told the court that he was ready to move the motion while at that juncture too, Sunny Odey, counsel to the second defendant (Yusuf Pam), and Adeniyi said they were ready.
However, Pwajok said that he brought his objection pursuant to Section 36 (12) of the constitution as amended and sought these reliefs that the court should make and order quashing or striking out counts 13, 14, 16 and 17 of the amended charges as they are unknown to court and incompetent.
He added specifically that paragraphs 16 and 17 of the amended charges are prejudicial, preposterous, shocking, embarrassing and outrageous, stressing that 17 – paragraph affidavit was attached to buttress his argument contention.
Pwajok further told the court that they had distilled three issues for determination in their written address, most especially the offending words to them are “transferred by approval” contained in the amended charges, saying that going by Section 22 (5) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) which said that any public officer who transfers (Money) shall be guilty of one year imprisonment on conviction, adding that there is nowhere “approved or transfer is mentioned.”
In reply again, Adeniyi said that there is nowhere he alleged that there was “prejudice,” adding that it was Pwajok who alluded to it. He said that the deponent in their affidavit is based on facts and not an assumption that “this may happen.”
Justice Longji noted that the case had taken long, but added that it is not the fault of the prosecution, defence, and the court stressing, “All that transpired is in the course of action. We will give the second defendant time to tell us whether he opposes the application or not. To start de novo in this matter is not too good at all,” and adjourned the matter to today .