- Guilty of violating Public Procurement Act
- I will appeal – convicted ex-gov. Ngilari
- Choose any prison nationwide after serving first in Yola prisons – Judge
- Governors, Senators, 21, under investigation and trial
- This is just the beginning for corrupt people like him – Adeniran
The immediate former governor of Adamawa State, Mr. James Ngilari, has been sentenced to five years in jail without option of fine, after he was found guilty of corrupt practices.
Ngilari has been charged with gross violation of the provisions of the procurement laws of the state of which he was found guilty and convicted.
His conviction marked the first time justice has been served on an immediate-past governor in the records of the Federation few days after the new Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen took office and pledged to restore apt judicial reforms and prompt judicial rulings to the country’s justice system.
The convicted governor became the second immediate-past governor since 1999 to be convicted of corruption in 18 years.
Currently, there seem to be a revamp in Nigeria’s judicial system as over 30 past governors are currently been tried, even as Chief James Ibori of Delta State, was freed of 180 charges levelled against him at the Federal High Court, Asaba, in 2009.
Surprisingly, charges levelled against former Rivers State governor, Dr. Peter Odili, between 1999 and 2007, have been foiled upon a long-lasting injunction obtained by the former governor to halt attempts to try him in court.
Ngilari in Brief
The former governor was among the Oputa Panel members in 1999. Having served in the House of Representatives during 2003 and 2007, he became deputy governor of Adamawa state in 2007 before being impeached alongside Governor Murtala Nyako in July of 2014
Shockingly, an Abuja High Court reversed his impeachment and on October 9, 2014, he was reinstated and formerly sworn in as governor of Adamawa state.
Having served as Governor for just seven months he committed the offences for which he was convicted which led to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, filling charges against Ngilari (ex-governor), plus two of his aides, Mr. Andrew Welye and Sunday Lamurde, Secretary to the State Government, SSG, and the Commission of Finance which served during his administration.
However, Welye and Lamurde were acquitted by the court which was presided over by Justice Nathan Musa over lack of proof of committed offenses filled against the accused by the EFCC.
While passing judgement, Justice Musa maintained that the prosecution indeed proved its case against the immediate-past governor.
Justice Musa uphold that Ngilari violated the Public Procurement Act of the state when he awarded contract for the procurement of 25 vehicles for his commissioners at the cost of N167 million, without following due process.
The Justice said the past-governor’s actions resulted to executive lawlessness and as such five years was the least sentence Ngilari could be sentenced.
Counsel to the defendant, Mr. Samuel Toni (SAN) pleaded for mercy “in view of Ngilari’s invaluable contribution when he was the governor of the state, during the trying moment of insurgency.”
Justice Musa while passing judgement also said the ex-governor would serve his prison sentence in any prison of his choice across the country “but for now he should start with Yola prison.”
The Judge was hopeful that the present prison sentence passed on Ngilari would serve as warning to current governors, who careless about adhering to dully constituted status quo.
According to Justice Musa: “It is my hope that this conviction and sentence will serve as deterrent to serving governors,” he said. But Justice Musa acquitted Welye and Lamurde, holding that the prosecutors are unable to prove their case against the accused.
However, the immediate-past and convicted governor Ngilari has indicated interest to appeal his conviction, “I will appeal”, said the convict.
Just before he was taken to prison Ngilari said he would appeal his prison sentence.
The sentence meted on Ngilari has raised reactions with Professor Itse Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, PACAC, noting that it was indicative of the fact that the governments fight against corruption was gradually yielding positive results.
Prof. Sagay said: “The Federal Government, as regards to corruption, has tried, (and) tried in the sense it has shown that the fight against corruption is not selective. This is a case involving a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and he has not enjoyed any favour at all in the fight against corruption.
“Also, there have been a lot of complaints that we only hear of the announcement of people being arrested and newspaper publicity among others.
“We only started operating the Criminal Justice Act just late last year and with that improved act, you can see that the speed of convictions and acquittal.
“The speed of convictions and acquittal has improved and the fight against corruption is becoming effective.”
While reacting, Mr. Debo Adenira, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, noted that the country was no longer aiding and abetting corrupt practices irrespective of suspects power.
“The conviction is the much-expected progress in the renewed fight against corruption. Before now, many people were pessimistic about the fight against corruption but the renewed vigour has shown that the country was no longer aiding and abetting corrupt practices no matter how powerful the suspects are.”
What we have seen is different from what we were used to and this Ngiliari example indicates that this is just the beginning for corrupt people like him,” said Adeniran
More Ex-Governors Undergoing Trials
More ex-governors undergoing investigation and trial include also include, Mr. Jolly Nyame, a former governor of Taraba State who was alleged to have embezzled the sum of N1.3 billion.
Sources have claimed that Senator Danjuma Goje of Gombe State including four others were in 2011 arraigned on charges bothering on conspiracy, fraud and money laundering and allege diversion of N52 billion of public funds.
Former governor of Imo state, Ikedi Ohakim, was accused of paying sum disturbing $2,290,000.00 (some N270,000,000.00) to acquire one property located at Plot Number 1098 Cadastral Zone A04, Asokoro District, also known as Number 60, Kwame Nkurumah Street, Asokoro in Abuja.
Also, an ex-governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu, is currently being tried before an Abuja High Court on 10-count charges bordering on money laundering, official corruption, and misappropriation of over N5 billion of publics funds.
More so, Senator Joshua Dariye, past governor of Plateau State, is currently undergoing trial on 23-count charges bordering on money laundering and misappropriation of funds belonging to Plateau State.
Senator Dariye is accused of diverting about N1.2 billion from the Ecological Fund of the state under his administration.
List of Public Office Holders Under Trials / Investigations
Top names on the exclusive list of past public office holders to be investigated include Chimaroke Nnamani, Enugu State; Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto State; Isah Yuguda, Bauchi State; SaminuTuraki, Jigawa State; Rasheed Ladoja, Oyo State; Murtala Nyako, Adamawa; Boni Haruna, Adamawa State; and Sule Lamido, Jigawa State.
More so, Gabriel Suswam, Benue State; Martin Elechi, Ebonyi State; Senator Ahmad Sani, Zamfara State; Abdullahi Adamu, Nasarawa State; Gbenga Daniel, Senator Ogun State; and Bukola Saraki, Kwara State.
Lastly, Senator George Akume, Benue State; Adebayo Alao-Akala, Oyo State; and Ibrahim Shema, Katsina State are currently undergoing trial by the EFCC.
Other than the mentioned public office holders almost all past-governors have been interrogated by the anti-graft agency (EFCC) over allegations levelled against them while in office with different stages in their investigations.