Former Governor Jolly Nyame of Taraba

..Approves N1m for self, N15,000 for policemen for 5days trip

Former Governor of Taraba state, Jolly Nyame on Thursday told an FCT High Court in Gudu that there is nothing abnormal in his approval of a total sum of N450 million for purchase of stationery in less than two months.

Under further cross-examination by prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Nyame confirmed that he approved a memo on 30/12/2004 requesting for N250 million for the purchase of stationery and the money was released on 04/01/2005.

He also confirmed that barely a month after the release of the N250million, he also approved another memo requesting for N200million for the purchase of additional stationery and that the cheque was cashed on 14/02/2005 by one Abdulkadir N. Umar, a staff at the state’s ministry of finance.

Of the N200million, N165million was allegedly diverted by Nyame when Umar deposited the sum to the account of Salman Global Ventures, a company carrying out a project for the state.

Confronted with this allegation and Umar’s statement that he made the deposit on his order, Nyame said, “It is not true. I did not instruct anybody from ministry of finance to transfer funds to the account of Salman Global.”

Nyame also confirmed that he approved another N20 million for the purchase of stationery in October same year for the office of the SSG less than 8 months after N450million was already approved for same.

Asked if it is reasonable for the state to release all these funds for stationery within a year, Nyame said, “It is normal because I give approval to memos based on requirements and needs of the ministry requesting.”

He further denied the allegation that he ordered that the Chief Store Officer of the state should be queried when the officer questioned the whereabouts of the funds for the stationery.

“I would be surprise to hear that the Chief Store Officer said he did not see any stationery bought with the N250million, but I did not know anything about the query except now in court,” he said.

In ending his cross-examination, Jacobs asked whether with all the revelations and controversies that trailed the approval of the N470million for stationery, Nyame did not owe his state an apology for enriching himself with their funds; to this, Nyame reiterated that his responsibility stopped at signing the memos.

Earlier, Nyame confirmed that he approved N1million for himself as DTA before his trip to South Africa while he approved N15,000 for each of the 12 policemen and four SSS officials with him.

He said he approved N35,000 for each of the three public officers with him and N22,500 for his orderly, while each of the 10 drivers with him got N20,000 for the five days they spent in Abuja before the trip.

He said although he said in the memo that the purpose of the trip to South Africa was “towards the development of Taraba state”, he cannot remember the details, but “I believe the trip was for an important reason.”

Asked whether Taraba state had an investment in South Africa during his term, he said, “I cannot remember. I don’t know details of government after approving memos. That is purely administrative.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Nyame for alleged misappropriation of Taraba funds to the tune of N1.64 billion during his tenure as the governor from 1999 to 2007.

The trial judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko, upon the defence closing its case, adjourned the matter to December 5th for adoption of final written addresses.

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