Alleged N6.3bn Fraud: Lalong Spends Plateau Funds Same Way Jang Did – Witness

Alleged N6.3bn Fraud: Lalong Spends Plateau Funds Same Way Jang Did – Witness

Habila Dung, a prosecution witness in the N6.3 billion
fraud case against Jonah Jang, has said that the former Plateau
governor’s style of expending security funds was not peculiar to him.

“Jang’s
way of handling security funds is not new; it is the same way his
successor, Gov. Simon Lalong, is doing it,” Mr Dung, former Permanent
Secretary, Cabinet and Special Services, told the Plateau State High
Court trying Mr Jang, on Friday in Jos.

The News Agency of
Nigeria (NAN), reports that Mr Dung is the fourth prosecution witness in
the case brought against Mr Jang and Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in the
Plateau Government House.

The accused persons are being tried over the alleged fraud said to have been committed between September 2010 and October 2014.

They
are facing 12 count charges bordering on conspiracy and money
laundering allegedly committed when Jang was the governor of the
north-central state.

The anti-graft agency is alleging that
the defendants had conspired to defraud the state of the said amount
(N6.3bn), via illegal acts, contrary to, and punishable under, sections
15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011, as
amended.

The former permanent secretary had, on Thursday,
told the trial Judge, Daniel Longji, that all withdrawals made by Mr Pam
were taken to Mr Jang for disbursement to the 17-member State Security
Council.

But, while being cross-examined on Friday by Mr Jang’s
counsel, Mike Ezekhome, Mr Dung said that the practice of withdrawing
security funds from the state coffers by a cashier and delivering same
to the governor in his office, was not peculiar to Jang.

“The
practice is still on-going, long after Jang left office in May 29, 2015.
The current governor is doing the same. So, it is nothing new.

“I
was the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet and Special Services in the office
of the Secretary to the State Government, between December 2014 and
September 6, 2015.

“Once there is a security challenge, the
governor will ask me to raise a memo for a certain amount which will be
withdrawn by the cashier and taken to the governor,’’ he said.

NAN
reports that Mr Ezekhome produced documents indicating withdrawals done
between July 1 to October 7, 2015, in eight different bank statements
by Yusuf Pam and his successor, Erick Kangnan, to further confirm that
such withdrawals were “a normal trend with both the Jang and Lalong
administrations.

“Will I, therefore, be correct to say that
during Gov Jang’s and Gov Lalong’s tenures, while you were the permanent
secretary, and when Yusuf Pam and Erick Kangnan were cashiers, the same
pattern was adopted?’’ Mr Ezekhome asked, to which Dung answered, “yes
sir, the pattern was the same.’’

“The same pattern used in
withdrawing security funds tagged as `classified expenditures’ during
Governor Jonah Jang is still the same pattern within the administration
of Lalong,’’ Dung reaffirmed to the court.

The defence
counsel asked the prosecution witness whether he had ever seen Pam (2nd
accused), delivering any of the withdrawn funds to Mr Jang in his
office, to which he answered in the negative.

On whether he had
ever seen Mr Jang putting any such monies in the booth of his car to
take home or heard anybody said he/she saw him (Jang), doing that when
he was governor, Mr Dung answered, “not at all sir.’’

The defence
counsel also asked Mr Dung whether he had ever heard any of the
beneficiaries of the security funds complaining that Mr Jang ever denied
him/her of his/her allowance, and the to prosecution witness said that
no one had ever complained.

On whether the same security
challenges Mr Jang faced as governor were faced by Governor Lalong when
he (Dung), was still in office as permanent secretary in the cabinet
office, Dung answered in the affirmative.

According to him,
Mr Lalong was facing the same security challenges and was withdrawing
and expending security funds “the same way”.

Justice Longji has adjourned the case to March 5, 6 and 7, 2019 for the continuation of hearing. (NAN)

Source:- Premiumtimesng