Jos high court remands former plateau governor in prison
Supporters of the former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang and PDP stalwarts who thronged Jos High Court on Wednesday hoping Jang will regain his freedom were disappointed as the Court ordered that the former governor should be remanded in Jos Prison till next week Thursday when the application for him and one Yusuf Pam will be determined.
In the same vein, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other-Related Offences Commission on Wednesday withdrew charges filed against the former governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah David Jang, saying it was to avoid abuse of court processes.
Senator Jang and Pam who was a Cashier in the office of the Secretary to the State Government when the former was the governor of the state were being charged with criminal corruption and misappropriation of funds to the tune of billions of naira when they were in government by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
After listening to the parties on the application for bail, Justice Daniel Longji said has no doubt in his mind that that the case was a sensitive and contentious one which should be adjourned to a later date for ruling whether Jang should be granted bail or not.
The 12-count charges filed against him and Pam were read to them, and they both pleaded not guilty. The charges among others include misappropriation of monies disbursed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) meant for disbursement to prospective beneficiaries of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMEDF), dishonestly diverting and misappropriating “certain property” summing up to a various amount of monies. The said offences according to the charges are punishable under section 309 of the Penal Code Law of Northern Nigeria applicable to Plateau state.
After the charges were read, and the accused pleaded not guilty, their lead counsel, Mr Robert Clarke (SAN), who said he was committed speedy trial of case, argued that an accused person is presumed innocent by fact and law, however, the law says there are some grievous offences, but generally we are all presumed innocent.
“But in spite of that, even the woman who stabbed her husband, as grievous as that offence may seem, was granted a bail. We, lawyers, have as a cornerstone of our profession the saying that facts are sacred. The facts here are all pecuniary.“Justice must not only be seen to be done but must be done to be seen.
However, the counter-affidavit states that the accused persons have been enjoying administrative bail, but that it is now refused because of the enormity of the charges before them. So they did not only withdraw the administrative bail but urging your lordship not to grant them bail because they may abscond.
Clarke said, “The counter-affidavit also claimed that if granted bail, they may go and intimidate witnesses. But the witnesses have always been there when they were granted administrative bail and were never intimidated. After all, the pieces of evidence are already before the court, and the witnesses cannot at this point be intimidated.
“The first accused has been a military Governor twice and civilian Governor for eight years. He is now a distinguished Senator. He is also a graduate of Theology and a Pastor. Respect should be given to whom respect is due. He should be given bail on self-recognition.
“On these facts, I urge you, my Lord, not to run along with their counter-affidavit.”
But in a counter-argument, Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Jacobs cited the case of Asari Dokubo, a founder of Niger-Delta militant group, to support his argument who was not granted bail, adding that an accused person shall not ‘ordinarily’ be released on bail. He also cited the case between Ishaya Bamayi and the State (2001), insisting that the case at hand borders on corruption and none of these charges are less than five years jail.
He said that the bail should be denied to avoid the liberty of committing other offences. But that rather the Judge should grant an accelerated hearing.
Delivering his ruling on the bail, Justice Longji noted that the case was a sensitive one. He said, “I have no doubt in my mind that this case is a sensitive one, especially considering the calibre of the person involved.” He, however, said he will adjourn to a later date.
The Judge then used his discretion and finally ruled that Jang should be kept in Jos prisons custody till Thursday, 24th May 2018 when the ruling on the bail application will be decided.