From Musa Solomon , Yola
“The court’s hands are tied by this law so I cannot do otherwise, so the only thing is to give you the minimum sentence of five years. You will serve it in Yola main prison.”
With these words on Monday, Justice Nathan Musa, sentenced former Governor James Ngillari of Adamawa State to five years in jail for contravening the the State’s Public Procurement law.
There were expectations in Yola that Ngillari, a lawyer, would appeal the judgment.
Justice Nathan relied on Section 58 subsection (5) of the Adamawa Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) law which stipulated that any of its official that contravened the law was liable to a minimum of five years imprisonment without option of fine .
He hoped his judgment will be a deterrent to public officers not to abuse their office.
Two others charged alongside the Governor, the Secretary to the State Government, Ibrahim Welye; and Finance Commissioner, Jonathan Sanda, who served under him were given a clean bill of health and sent home.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had dragged the former Governor to court for awarding contracts without following due process.
In one of them, Ngillari awarded a contract of N167.8 million for supply of 25 units of Toyota Camary cars to a female contractor known only to him, a move the judge described as executive rascality and lawlessness.
The SSG had said in his statement to the EFCC “The governor summoned me and directed me to write a memo for the purchase of vehicles for commissioners . When I raised the issue of due process by contacting BPP the Governor told me he is under pressure. After I raised the memo, few days after the governor called me that the contractor failed to supply eight vehicles out 25, she supplied only 17 units of the vehicles and that I should call her, but I could not call her because I did not have her phone number.”Reading from the statement of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ibrahim Welye, to convict the former Deputy Governor, who became Governor after the impeachment of his boss, Admiral Murtala Nyako. the judge said the argument of the defence counsel that the a permanent secretary was liable could not hold water since the man was sidelined in the contract award.
On the position of the defence that his client hurriedly awarded the contract because it was an emergency, the judge was not impressed because they were not -security vehicles.