ABUJA: FORMER Taraba State Accountant General, Yusuf Yamusa, conceded collecting about N40 million out of a sum of money ex-Governor, Joel Joseph Lenbang, allegedly looted from the government coffers.
The latter is accused of looting more than N1.6 billion between January 2012 and December 2013. The probe is ongoing at the Federal High Court in Jalingo. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has brought Yamusa to testify against the former of Taraba State governor.
The EFCC has alleged, in an eight-count charge, that the former Accountant General masterminded the approval and withdrawal of the money under the false pretense that the money was being utilised for various payments to ministries, departments, agencies, bank Commission On Turnover (COT) and Value Added Tax (VAT).
The commission accused Lenbang of committing the offence “contrary to and punishable under Sections 1(2) and 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006”. The anti-graft agency in its affidavit of investigation claimed it acted on a petition (of alleged corruption) against one Baute Danladi that led to tracing the crime to Lenbang.
Although Lenbang denied committing the offences but a Yamusa under cross-examination by the defence counsel, AJ Akanmode, admitted to have collected a token amount. The accused’s lawyer then referred the witness to his written statement at the EFCC on March 31, 2014, which he told the EFCC that he collected the sum of N40 million out of the looted sum.
But when asked whether he has refunded the money to EFCC, Yamusa, who claimed memory loss, said, “I have started refunding the money but I cannot tell how much I have given the EFCC. It was little by little, but I can’t remember,” he said.
Yamusa, in his oral testimonies, told the court that the accused, during his time as Accountant General, used to order the sub-treasury to issue cheques and withdrawal of the money which was taken by the cashier and sub-treasury to the Deputy Accountant General who would in turn handover the money to the accused.
The witness said when this was happening he took a bold step and confronted the accused on the transactions and the accused told him that the withdrawals were done in compliance to directives from the above in government.
However, the accused’s lawyer told the witness that these pieces of his testimony were not contained in his statement with the EFCC. Yamusa was handed his statement, in exhibit E2, to see the variance. He said he was not seeing well. The defense counsel asked whether he needed eye-glasses.
When asked whether what he told the court was reflected in his statement with the EFCC, Yamusa again claimed, “It was an oversight.” Counsel to EFCC Al’Qasim Ja’Afar prevailed on the witness to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ where appropriate.
The defense counsel accused Yamusa of having a deal with the Acting Accountant General Titus Dauda to implicate his client.
“I put it to you that this is part of your deal with the acting accountant-general to come and give false witness against the accused (Lenbang) for him to facilitate your retirement benefits” the defense counsel said.
Justice D.U Okorowo adjourned the case to March 5 for further trial.
SOURCE: CAJ NEWS AGENCY