Rule on the admissibility of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) documents sought to be tendered against a former governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, has been fixed for June 27, 2019 by Justice Daniel Longji of a Plateau State High Court, sitting in Jos last week.
Jang is standing trial along with Yusuf Gyang Pam, a cashier of the Office of the Secretary to the Plateau State Government, for allegedly using their position to defraud the state, and enrich themselves after diverting about N2 billion released to the state by the Central Bank of Nigeria, under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Funds, MSMEDF, just a month to the expiration of Jang’s tenure in 2015.
They were first arraigned on May 16, 2018 and pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
At the resumed sitting on June 13, 2019, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, while leading another prosecution witness in evidence, Jonah Kabong, a civil servant in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, had applied to tender in evidence, minutes of the State Security Council meeting and that of the State Executive Council between 2014 and 2015 – during Jang’s administration.
However, counsel to Jang, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, vehemently opposed the application, arguing that they were classified documents and so could not be tendered without authorization from the Plateau State government.
He said: “We are strongly objecting to that application because it’s not proper to tender documents that are classified and tagged as ‘top secret’ before a law court.
“We believe it’s going to be injurious, particularly to Plateau State.
“Classified documents are not for public consumption.
“Our opposition to this dangerous attempt is not because we are afraid of anything, but such documents by Law are not to be thrown open to the public.”
Sunday Odey, counsel to Pam, aligned himself with the arguments of Ozekhome, stressing further that there was a need not to violate the official Secret Act.
Jacobs, however, countered their arguments noting that the documents, were indeed, crucial to proving the case against Jang.
He said: “The documents are crucial in the prosecution of the matter and the government does not need an authority from itself to tender a document that’s within its custody and wilfully.
“Moreover, the Law that governs admissibility is the Evidence Act and in this case, particularly Section 190 and 246.
“We, therefore, urge the Court to admit the documents in the interest of justice.”
After listening to all the arguments and counter-arguments, Justice Longji adjourned for ruling.