Witness admits collecting N40m from alleged N1.6b fraud sum

A MILD drama took place in the Federal High Court, Jalingo when a witness told the court that he collected about N40million out of the amount allegedly looted from the treasury of the Taraba State Government.

   The amount, which the witness, Yusuf Yamusa, described as “a token” during cross-examination, almost plunged the court into a rowdy section. 

 Yamusa is among the 25 witnesses of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) brought against the former Accountant-General of Taraba State, Joel Joseph Lenbang, who is accused by the anti-graft agency of defrauding the state of N1.6 billion at various months between January 2012 to December 2013.

    In an eight-count charge brought against the former Accountant General, the EFCC alleged that Lenbang “masterminded the approval and withdrawal of the money under false pretenses that the money was being utilised for various payments to ministries, departments, agencies, bank Commission On Turnover (COT) and Value Added Tax (VAT).”

   In its affidavit of investigation, EFCC claimed that it acted on a petition (of alleged corruption) against one Mr. Baute Danladi that led to “tracing the crime to Lenbang” the offense, which Lenbang denied knowledge of.

   While cross examining the witness, Lanbang, defence counsel AJ Akanmode, asked Yamusa of the exact amount he collected from the said looted funds, which he replied “I collected a token amount.”

   The accused’s lawyer then referred the witness to his written statement at the EFCC on March 31, 2014, which he told the EFCC that he collected the sum of N40 million out of the looted sum. 

   When asked whether he has refunded the money to EFCC, as earlier promised while in the custody of the EFCC Yamusa, said, “I have started refunding the money but I cannot tell how much I have given the EFCC.”

   The witness also claimed the EFCC did not issue him any receipts for the monies he has refunded. “It was little by little, but I can’t remember the amount I have so far refunded.”

   Wondering why the witness have continue to beat around the bush, the defense counsel observed that most of the testimonies being giving by the witness were not contained in his statement with the EFCC. 

When further asked whether what he told the court was reflected in his statement with the EFCC, the witness claimed, “It was an oversight” the situation which made the Counsel to EFCC Al’Qasim Ja’Afar to prevailed on the witness to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ 

   Not comfortable with the contradictory statement of the witness the defense counsel accused him of having a deal with the Acting Accountant General Titus Dauda to implicate his client.



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