Court orders ‘trial-within-trial’ in EFCC vs Jang case


A high Court in Jos, Plateau State, yesterday ordered a trial-within-trial to ascertain whether the statement which the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) obtained from a former cashier of the Government House, Yusuf Pam, facing N6 billion charge, was voluntarily given or done under duress. Justice Daniel Longji of the Plateau High Court gave the order in his ruling following the disclosure that ICPC operatives pressured Pam to make written statements during investigation.

Pam is standing trial alongside former Governor Jonah Jang, who is representing Plateau North in the Senate, in a 12-count charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on corruption and misappropriation of the state’s fund.EFCC had alleged that Jang, who served as governor between 2007 and 2015, misappropriated N6 billion two months to the end of his administration.

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The case was adjourned till April 25 for a trial-within-trial.Also, a special offences court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has declined jurisdiction on N254 million corruption suit filed against Senator Albert Bassey representing Akwa Ibom North-East by EFCC.

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, yesterday struck out the suit while ruling on the application filed by Bassey challenging the jurisdiction of the court.The court held that the issue of jurisdiction is fundamental, adding that the evidence before the court did not disclose that the offence was committed within its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, the EFCC has arraigned the former Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Bature Masari, on a 17- count charge of money laundering before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.His arraignment followed his alleged involvement in N107.7 million money laundering.Justice Abang adjourned the matter till April 12, 2019 for ruling on bail application, while ordering that the ex-DG of SMEDAN be remanded in Kuje Prison.

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Its Enugu zonal office also arrested Kingsley Ubenyi, the operator of a defunct Enugu-based wonder bank, KSLEY Mega Vision, who is standing trial for operating a financial institution illegally and obtaining N84.6 million from hundreds of his victims.Ubenyi’s arrest followed a bench warrant issued by Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Enugu, and upheld on March 28, 2019 by Justice Ibrahim Buba, who took over the case, having noticed that Ubenyi had yet to appear in court and had, through his lawyer, John Bigwan, brought a medical report purportedly from Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, seeking leave for his continued absence in court.
Similarly, former employee of Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Isaac Agbanwu, has been arraigned by ICPC for allegedly misappropriating the sum of N14.5 million belonging to the cooperative society of the ministry. Agbanwu, who was the chairman of the ministry’s Thrift and Credit Cooperative Society Limited, is facing a four-count charge before Justice Gaba Simon of High Court 34 of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kwali.
In his trial before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, yesterday, Muhammad Belgore (SAN) denied knowledge of the account opening package of N450 million he allegedly collected in the build up to the 2015 presidential election. Belgore is standing trial alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, for allegedly receiving N450 million on March 27, 2015 for the purpose of the election.Justice Aikawa adjourned the case till April 12 (today) for continuation of trial.

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