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Jang has case to answer, court rules

Ex-governor insists on appeal

Mr. Justice Daniel Longji of the Plateau State High Court ruled yesterday that former governor of the state, Senator Jonah Jang, is culpable in the N6.2 billion suit instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

But Jang said he would appeal the ruling.

Longji, who delivered his last ruling on the no-case submission by Jang’s counsel, Edward Pwajok (SAN), said he was going to return the case file to the state’s Chief Judge to re-assign it to another judge for the case to start afresh.

The ruling was a serious setback, as the trial judge retired from the bench after serving for 35 years.

In the summarised ruling, the judge briefly reviewed all the parties’ submissions, holding that having carefully considered all the submissions and arguments, the prosecution established a prima facie case against Jang.

But according to him, the defence had not sufficiently proved their case beyond reasonable doubt to exonerate the suspect, as enough evidence was not produced.

Before holding that Jang has case to answer, the trial judge said he had carefully reviewed the evidence before him, noting that that the records could not lie.

Pointing out that he was meeting the retiring judge for the last time, Pwajok reminded him to order that the bail earlier granted Jang and his cashier, Yusuf Pam, should continue, as the EFCC might be excited by the ruling, which was in its favour, to want to re-arrest them.

Longji agreed to the plea.

Speaking with journalists shortly after the court session, Pwajok said that the defence team was going to appeal against the ruling.

“We will appeal against the decision of the court because in this kind of ruling, there are 17 counts and the court is just expected to state its position with regards to each of the counts.

“There are counts two, three, four and others. All of us were in court. We didn’t hear the ruling of the court with respect to the others. The court only gave its decision with respect to Count One and said that a prima facie case had been made by the prosecution against both the first and second accused persons.

“Even on that alone, we are also aggrieved. We are not satisfied with that, particularly for the first defendant.”

There was no review of even the submission of the first defendant, but there was a review of the submission of the prosecution. We are not quiet. We are the ones that made the initial no-case submission. So, we thought something would have been mentioned,” he said.

According to Pwajok, by the procedure of criminal trials, particularly in corruption cases such as this, “it is very possible that by the time we have even gone, probably before midway, into the trial before the new judge, even the Court of Appeal would have even determined our appeal on the no-case submission. So, the appeal process will be going on simultaneously with the trial before the high court.”

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