By Thompson Yamput
Jos – Mr Emmanuel Panja, a prosecution witness in the fraud case instituted by the EFCC against Sen. Jonah Jang, has told a Jos state High Court that the former Plateau governor has never made any withdrawal from the various state accounts with the Zenith Bank Plc.
Panja, a Senior Manager in the marketing section of the bank, stated this on Wednesday, while being cross examined by Mr Mike Ezekhome (SAN), Counsel to Jang.
Jang is standing trial along with Mr Yusuf Pam, a former cashier at the Plateau Cabinet Office, over alleged fraud involving N6.3 billion, said to have taken place between Sept. 2010 and Oct. 2014.
The accused persons, who are facing 12 count charges bordering on conspiracy and money laundering, are said to have committed the fraud when Jang was the governor of the north-central state.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants had conspired to defraud the state of the said amount (N6.3bn), via illegal acts, contrary to, and punishable under sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011, as amended.
When the case came up before the trial Judge, Justice Daniel Longji, for continuation of hearing, Panja told the court that even though there were three accounts of the state with the bank, Jang was not a signatory to them and never withdrew money from any of them.
Longji had earlier ruled on a disputed Zenith Bank computer-generated bank statements and other attachments, brought by Panja as a document, which he (Judge), accepted and marked as Exhibit 25, using section 84 of the Evidence Act as a window.
The EFCC Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had led Panja into testimonies on how monies were credited and withdrawn from three government accounts with the bank.
The witness gave the names of the accounts as Office of the Secretary to the State Government (OSSG), Security Account, OSSG Over Head Account, and Plateau State Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (PLASME), account, which was also known as project one account.
But Panja, under cross examination by Ezekhome, who used his (Panja’s) three different statements of claim made to EFCC, said that Jang had never, at no time, come to the bank to make any withdrawal or accompanied anyone coming for withdrawal from any of the state accounts.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the court had accepted Panja’s three statements and marked them as exhibit D1(a)(b) and (c).
While cross examining the witness, Mr Sunday Odey, Counsel to the second accused person (Yusuf Pam), had shown Panja other withdrawals done by one Erick Kangnan, the cashier who replaced Pam, between May 1, to August 2015, using the same pattern as Pam.
“Looking at the bank records/withdrawals done after Governor Jang left office, you would agree with me that the withdrawals made by Erick Kangnan followed the same pattern as that of Yusuf Pam?” Odey asked, to which Panja answered in the affirmative.
Odey gave the withdrawal dates as July 1 and 4, Aug. 4 and 19, 2015 which ran into almost N303.8 million, pointing out that the withdrawals were carried out by Kangnan, long after Jang had left office on May 29, 2015.
After hearing the testimonies of Panja, Justice Longji adjourned the case to Thursday, Dec. 6, for continuation of hearing. (NAN)