The trial of former Plateau State governor, Senator Jonah David Jang continued on Thursday with the testimony of prosecuting witness two (PW2), Uchenna Innocent Igwe.
The witness told Justice C. L. Dabup of Plateau State High Court, Jos, how Jang allegedly diverted Plateau’s N2 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) fund to 19 accounts in five days.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Jang alongside a former cashier in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government (OSSG), Yusuf Pam for alleged criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of Plateau State funds to the tune of N6.3 billion.
Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob (SAN), Igwe, who was a senior manager and head, Jos branch of Zenith Bank from 2014 to 2015 narrated how N2 billion MSMEs development fund granted by the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) for provision of affordable credit to participants was diverted.
He said, “My lord we have the Plateau State Project One Account and Plateau State Small and Medium Enterprises Development (PALSMEDEN) account. An inflow of N2 billion from Central Bank of Nigeria came into the Plateau State Project One Account and the inflow was for Small Scale and Medium Enterprises and immediately I saw the inflow in the Project One Account, I notified the commissioner of Finance and the state’s accountant-general that there was an inflow of N2 billion into the Project Account One, instead of the PALSMEDEN account. I notified them because they are the accounting officers of the state.
“The PALSMEDEN account was supposed to house the money for the Small Scale and Medium Enterprises because that was the essence of the account, and was supposed to be disbursed in due course to the micro finance banks, and then to the end users.
“The moment I notified them that the money was sent into the wrong account, they ordered us to transfer the money to the PALSMEDEN account. Immediately I got the instruction, we transferred the money to the PALSMEDEN account on March 20, 2015.”
A twist, however, came on March 24, 2015, when the bank received a counter instruction to transfer the money back to Project One Account, which is the wrong account for the fund. And against what the money was meant for.
Igwe disclosed that on March 25, 2015, the bank was asked to transfer N900,000 to the Ministry of Information, N50 million to Government House Administrator, N150 million to OSSG’s Cabinet Office, another N150 million to OSSG’s office.
He further disclosed that on the same date, the bank was instructed to transfer N400,000 to Plateau State Fire Service, additional N2 million to OSSG Cabinet Office, N3 million to OSSG Cabinet Office, N5 million to Government House Administrator, N8.3 million to Government House Administrator, N15 million to OSSG Cabinet Office, another N15 million to OSSG Cabinet Office, N26,250,000 to the SSG account, N11 million to OSSG Cabinet Office and N609 million to Plateau State Government Salary Account.
He continued, “My lord on April 1, 2015 we transferred N609 million to Project One Account from Plateau State Government Salary Account. On April 2, there was a transfer of N150 million to OSSG Project Office Account, and April 7, there was another transfer of N150 million to OSSG Office. On April 8, we again transferred N150 million to OSSG Cabinet Office and N11,474,240.00 (Eleven Million, Four Hundred and Seventy-four Thousand, Two Hundred and Forty Naira) to Operation Rainbow and another N9 million to same Operation Rainbow”.
After a cross-examination of the witness, Jang’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), applied that his client be granted leave to travel to United Arab Emirate for medical treatment, promising that he wouldl be back before the next adjourned date.
Justice Dabup granted the prayer and adjourned the matter till February 16, 17 and 18, 2021 for continuation of trial