A Jos High Court sitting on Friday discharged and acquitted a former Governor of Plateau state, Jonah Jang, over the N6.3 billion corruption charges levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The court presided over by Justice Christy Dabup also discharged and acquitted a former cashier in the office of the Secretary to the Plateau state government, Yusuf Pam, who was accused alongside the former governor.
But in a terse statement by its spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC said: “The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been drawn to the Friday, September 2, 2022 judgment of Justice C.L Dabup of the Plateau State High Court sitting in Jos, discharging and acquitting a former governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah David Jang and a former cashier in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, OSSG , Yusuf Pam, of the seventeen- count charges bordering on criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of Plateau State funds to the tune of N6.3 billion.
“The Commission has initiated processes for an Appeal immediately.”
In his reaction, Jang said in a statement: “I must confess that I had known from the onset that leadership was not an easy task but I stepped out to make a difference, having been a Military Administrator in two states.
“The benevolence of the Plateau people and the grace of God made me the Governor of Plateau State from 2007-2015. My previous experience as a Military Administrator and the driving force which was to leave a mark on the Plateau as I did in my previous assignments never changed.
“It was with this zeal and drive that we implemented the 10-point agenda anchored on a 3-pillar policy to deliver the dividends of democracy for our dear state. Our desire to open up the state through infrastructural development was audible to the deaf and visible to the blind.
“This we were able to achieve with the meagre resources that accrued to the State at the time, in addition to the IGR raised.
“Our administration’s record speaks for itself as the state is dotted with developmental strides that affect the economy and the daily livelihoods of the people. Our primary role as a government was to provide security of lives, property and welfare through the provision of services for our people.
“We had done that to the best of our abilities via prudent management of the resources available to us, such that the average Plateau citizen could eke a living for himself.
“It is, however unfortunate that people whom I will best describe, for now, as the champions of retrogression and enablers of hardship for our people, came after us with bogus and fictitious claims of mismanagement. Thereby necessitating a protracted judicial journey of over four years, trying to prove our innocence in the courts.
“Because I knew that I was not guilty of the charges preferred against me, I saw the process as mere persecution and not a prosecution.
“Nigerians are witnesses to the fact that the current administration at all levels has spent more time passing the buck of their failure to the previous administration than they have given attention to governance.
“Little wonder, almost eight years after, it will seem that our achievements stand tall while the present government has little or nothing to show for the goodwill that it enjoyed.
“In the course of this travail, I spent over a week in EFCC detention and another 10 days in the Jos Custodial Centre. Those times we spent there, gave us another perspective on life and I count it a blessing because it has all ended today with this loud and clear vindication by the courts.
“The tortuous journey leading to my vindication today has only strengthened me to stand more on the path of truth and continue to work assiduously with well-meaning Plateau people and Nigerians for the good of our dear state, Plateau and the nation at large.”
“I hold no grudge against anyone as I consider whatever I have gone through as the price I had to pay for choosing the path of leadership. I give God the glory for bringing me through and I call on all Plateau sons and daughters, including people of goodwill on the Plateau not to wish our leaders bad.
“Let us close ranks and speak with one voice so that Plateau will emerge out of its current state to take its rightful place of pride as the envy of other states. The Plateau we have always known and been proud of has taken backstage but the onus is on us to reclaim our state and build it to the land of our dreams as was planned by our founding fathers and the generation of past leaderships.”
“I dedicate my victory in the court to God and the people of Plateau State with whom we worked to build a prosperous land.
“I thank the entire legal team led by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Barrister Edward Pwajok (SAN), my family who suffered all kinds of harassment and denigration through this period for standing firm and believing with me that it was only a phase that would pass.
“I am deeply grateful to my friends and associates for upholding me and all those who were persecuted alongside me in prayers and for their commitment to true friendship and camaraderie. I must thank the Judiciary for standing firm on the side of truth and justice not forgetting the Press on the Plateau for their unbiased coverage.
“The judicial journey of the past four years is not something to wish even the greatest of your enemies. It was not only distracting but robbed me of the time and attention to pursue personal goals. I had planned on retiring to my home place in Du but I, unfortunately, had to go out of my way to keep sourcing funds to pay my lawyers to secure representation in court. As genuine as those efforts are, freedom is better.”
Also reacting, Sen. Istifanus Gyang (PDP/Plateau North) described the discharge and acquittal Sen. Jonah Jang and Yusuf Pam of all corruption charges by a Jos High Court as a divine vindication.
Gyang said that the outcome of the trial indicates that the Nigerian judiciary could still be relied upon for fair and just adjudication and justice administration.
Member of House Representatives (PDP/Barkin Ladi/Riyom), Rep. Simon Mwadkon, described the the verdict as a landmark judgment.