N1.64bn fraud: Ex-Taraba gov, Nyame, jailed for 14 year
Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Gudu, Abuja, on Wednesday sentenced a former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, to 14 years’ imprisonment for his acts of criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of the sum of N1.64bn belonging to the state.
The judgment marked the end of about 11 years’ trial which would be the first full-blown criminal proceedings to be conducted in a Nigerian court and ended in a guilty verdict sending a former governor to jail for a period as long as 14 years for corruption.
Nyame, whose name goes with the appellation of a church title of “Reverend.” was convicted on a total of 27 out of the 41 counts preferred against him.
He was convicted and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment with the highest being 14 years for offences bordering on criminal breach of trust, criminal misappropriation, and taking valuable thing without consideration and receiving gratification as a public officer.
The judge sentenced him to the maximum punishment of 14 years for criminal breach of trust without an option of fine, two years for criminal misappropriation; seven years for receiving gratification and five years for “obtaining valuable thing without consideration.”
The sentences were the maximum provided by the law under which the convict was charged in May 2007.
There was no option of fine on any of the counts.
But the sentences, according to the judge, are to run concurrently.
The court also ordered that all the funds previously recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from aides to the ex-governor and other government officials involved in the scam be forfeited to the Taraba State Government.
Justice Banjoko read the main judgment for a period of about four hours spanning from 9.51am to about 2.05pm on Wednesday.
Her facial expression slid from mere smiles to even subdued laughter throughout the period she read the judgment.
She even sometimes took a break from reading the prepared judgment from her laptop to lay some comic emphasis on some points.
Perhaps infected by the calm atmosphere entrenched in the courtroom by the judge’s tone, Nyame maintained a relaxed countenance as he was seated in the dock with his head slightly thrown back resting against the wall throughout the five-hour proceedings.
Intermittently, his glances oscillated back and forth from the direction of the bench to that of the audience.
Light complexioned, tall and well-built; the convict was dressed in a dark brown kaftan with a cap to match.
He was asked by the judge to stand up when the sentences were being read.
His face did not give off any sign of anxiety throughout the proceedings even after the sentences were passed on him.
In her judgment, the judge faulted the convict’s attempt to distance himself from the company, Salman Global Ventures Limited, and its Managing Director, Ibrahim Abubakar, who on the instructions of the ex-governor, received a total sum N250m for stationery in January 2005, N25m for the same purpose in February 2005, and 20m for the same purpose in October 2005.