THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a former Gombe State Governor Danjuma Goje at the Federal High Court in Gombe on an amended N5 billion fraud charge.
He is charged along with Alhaji Aliyu U. El-Nafaty, S.M. Dokoro Gombe (aka S.M. Dokoro) and Alhaji Sabo Mohammed Tumu.
Prosecuting counsel Wahab Shittu said Goje, between September and November 2010, allegedly forged a document titled: “Resolution authorising His Excellency the Executive Governor of Gombe State to acquire loan of N5,000,000,000 only, with Ref. No: GM/HA/RES/VOL. 1/17”.
The commission said the resolution was purportedly signed by Clerk of the Gombe State House of Assembly Shehu Atiku.
EFCC said the intent was for the forged document to be used or acted upon as genuine by Access Bank Plc.
The prosecution closed its case after the cross-examination of the 24th prosecution witness, an EFCC operative Mr Chris Owobu by one of the defendants’ counsel, Paul Erokoro (SAN).
Owobu maintained that his team’s investigation on the N5 billion facility obtained from Access Bank by the Goje administration for infrastructural projects revealed that the purported House resolution authorising it was forged.
He said the conclusion was based on an analysis on the resolution carried out by the forensic expert.
Besides, the witness said Atiku denied authoring or signing the resolution when he was interrogated.
The witness said the forensic expert in his report, which had been tendered in evidence, also confirmed that the purported resolution was forged.
Owobu insisted that his investigation was focused mainly on the forgery of the purported resolution.
After re-examining the witness, Shittu sought the court’s leave for the amended 21-count charge to be read to the defendants, which was granted. The defendants all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Defence counsel Chris Uche (SAN) prayed the court to allow the defendants continue on their existing bail, to which Shittu had no objection. The prosecution then applied to close its case.
Defence counsel informed the court that the defence intended to file no-case application and requested for four weeks to file the relevant processes.
EFCC said Access Bank acted on the resolution in the belief that it was genuine in approving a N5 billion facility to the state for infrastructural projects.
According to the commission, Goje, between November 2, 2010 and February 24, 2011, transferred the N5 billion “allocated strictly for infrastructural projects to other purposes unconnected with infrastructural projects”.
The prosecution said the money was allegedly transferred to several individuals and corporate bank accounts as reflected in Gombe State Government Account No. 0003273131 and 0003273227 with Access Bank.
Shittu said they were acts of illegality, aimed at concealing the illicit origin of the money with a view to evading the illegal consequences of Goje’s action.
The offence, the lawyer said, contravenes Section 14 (1)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and is punishable under Section 14.
EFCC also alleged that the former governor transferred the money “without appropriation”, the sum “being facility obtained from Access Bank Plc for infrastructural projects, being an illegal act, concealing the illicit origin with a view to evading the illegal consequences of your action thereof”.
Goje was accused of transferring N21,874,260.62 to his cousin Tumu “for the supply of food items to Gombe State Government House” without going through any competitive bidding process.
The trial process which started in Gombe was moved to Jos at the request of the defence because of alleged security concerns.
The prosecution has called 24 prosecution witnesses so far in the trial which has spanned almost seven years
Justice Babatunde Quadri took note of the impending court vacation and the time that would be required for the prosecution to also respond to the no-case submission.
He adjourned until October 3 for adoption of written addresses on the no-case submissions.