The Federal Capital Territory High Court has sentenced a former governor of Taraba State, Mr Jolly Nyame, to 14 years in prison without an option of fine.
The court convicted Mr Nyame of criminal breach of trust in a case of N1.64billion fraud preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Nyame, who was Taraba State governor between 1999 and 2007, was accused of criminally misappropriating the funds while he governed the state.
Delivering a judgement that lasted more than four hours on Wednesday, Justice Adebukola Banjoko found the former governor guilty in 27 out of 41 counts he was charged with.
The judge blamed Nyame for financial recklessness and brazen display of executive power without following due process.
According to the judgement, the former governor was jailed two years for misappropriation of government funds, seven years for receiving gratification, and five years for obtaining valuable government properties without consideration.
However, the jail terms are to run concurrently.
– No Case Submission –
In November 2016, the prosecution had closed its case against Mr Nyame after presenting 14 witnesses to testify against him in the court.
But the trial suffered a setback on the same day after the defence told the court that it was going to file a “no case submission”, arguing that there was no prima facie case established against the former governor.
Consequently, in January 2017, both the prosecution and the defence adopted their written addresses and gave oral arguments.
The defence relied on the fact that some critical elements were missing in the case and urged the court to “hold that the testimony of prosecution witnesses have been so damaged and can’t be relied on”.
But the prosecution swiftly countered the submission, stating that it had established a prima facie case against Nyame after calling 14 witnesses who testified to how they assisted him to divert the funds.
After listening to both parties, Justice Banjoko had fixed February 14, 2017, to decide whether the former governor had a case to answer or not.
At Wednesday’s proceedings, the judge found the former governor guilty of 27 out of 41 counts levelled against him and jailed him for 14 years without an option of fine.