Perm sec tells how N450m was paid for N16m contractHeadlines, State News, Taraba Thursday, July 14th, 2011
A Permanent Secretary in the Taraba State Ministry of Finance, Asabe Maiangwa, has told a High Court in the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Abuja, how N450 million was paid by the state government to several persons to supply stationery and office equipment.
The permanent secretary said out of the N450 million only N16 million was used for the supply of stationery and office equipment at the instance of the then commissioner for finance, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Tutari.
Maiangwa was the 7th prosecution witness in the prosecution of the former governor of Taraba State, Rev. Jolly Nyame, who was standing trial over a 41-count charge bordering on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and gratification to the tune of N1.3 billion.
At the resumed hearing of the case yesterday, the witness who was being led in cross examination by prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, recounted how N450 million was paid out from the state treasury for a phony contract.
Maiangwa, who corroborated the previous testimony of the Accountant in the ministry, Alhaji Naigari Umar, said she was in Kaduna for a seminar in 2005 when her secretary called her on phone to inform her that a cheque for N250 million was released from the office of the accountant general to be paid through her ministry to Salman Global Ventures Ltd.
She said she directed the secretary to ensure the necessary documentation, which includes preparing the payment voucher and ensuring that the receipt was signed before releasing the cheque.
“The secretary carried out my instruction and showed me the documents in the file. I endorsed the back of the receipt and passed the document back to the secretary and the file was returned to the dip, where we store files,” she told the court.
Asked if the payment of the N250 million followed due process and if she knew what purpose the money was meant for, she said: “I was not around so I don’t know. But I did not see anything in the file to suggest that the job was done.”
Also asked to tell the court what she knew about the payment of N200 million by the state government in 2005, she said: “In 2005, the commissioner of finance (Alhaji Abubakar Umar Tutari), met me and gave me a list with two names – Salman Global Ventures and the deputy speaker. He told me that the accountant was going to bring a cheque from the accountant general’s office and we should disburse it.”
Maiangwa said she handed the note to the accountant. “In the note, the commissioner directed that the N165 million should be paid to Salman Global Ventures, N15 million to the deputy speaker, Taraba State House of Assembly, N4 million to the P. A. to commissioner of finance and N16 million was for the purchase of the stationery.”
She further said she handed over the N16 million to the accountant for the purchase of the stationery through a local contractor, Baba Gambo.
The permanent secretary was further asked what she did when she discovered that the contract items were not supplied, she said she went to the commissioner for finance to ask him the purpose for the issuance of cheque to Salman Global Ventures Limited when the jobs were not done. She said the commissioner told her that he was given an instruction to that effect.
She was again asked if she knew who gave the commissioner the instruction, she answered in the affirmative. Before she could go further with her testimony, defence counsel, Charles Edosonwan, objected and said it was improper for the witness to give testimony based on ‘hear say’.
“The only person who can do that is the commissioner of finance and no other person.” This led to a protracted argument before the trial judge, Justice Adebunkola Banjoko who thereafter adjourned the case till October 5, 2011, for ruling and continuation of hearing.
But before the adjournment, the permanent secretary had also told the court that the commissioner of finance after the payment of the various sums gave her N8 million as a gift to be shared to the entire staff of the ministry.
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