EFCC: How a widow’s petition earned Nyame 28-year jail term

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday revealed that a petition by a widow, Hauwa Kulu Usman, led to the investigation, trial and conviction of a former Governor of Taraba State, Rev. Jolly Nyame.

Nyame was jailed on May 30 by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Gudu, Abuja without an option of fine.

Justice Adebukola Banjoko convicted the ex-governor on 27 out of the 41 counts filed against him by the EFCC in July 2007.

Nyame was governor from 1991 to 1993 and 1999 to 2007.

But the anti-graft agency in its magazine, EFCC Alert, released a fact-sheet on how Nyame became a suspect while probing a petition by the widow.

The fact-sheet said: “Call it the serendipity of stumbling across a goldmine and you will not be far from the truth. Nyame was in fact, never in the purview of the EFCC, and no one at any time wrote a petition against him.

“There was no “witch-hunt”. Nyame’s financial crime was unraveled by the EFCC while investigating a petition written by a widow, Hauwa Kulu Usman, against Suleiman Abubakar, younger brother to her late husband, Usman Abubakar, Managing Director of Alusab International Limited.

“She had taken her cry to the EFCC to help recover money from Suleiman being payment to the company.

“The Taraba State government had issued a cheque of N135, 794,607 in favour of the company, as contract payment for rehabilitation of the Ibi-Wukari Water Project.

“But Suleiman collected the cheque and lodged it in a different account domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc, in Jalingo.  Hauwa sought the help of the EFCC to recover the money, accusing Suleiman who took over the company of “squandering” it.

“He was subsequently invited by the EFCC for questioning; then and there, the bubble burst. During interrogation, Suleiman admitted collecting the cheque, and though argued that he did not squander the money as alleged in the petition, confirmed that it was for the said project, which was ongoing before the death of his brother.

“He revealed that through Abubakar Tutare, then Commissioner of Finance in the state, the company applied for additional works, which was granted by the state government.

“According to him, the estimation for the additional works was N35 million, but Tutare instructed him to add N100 million to the estimation. Subsequently, a cheque of N135 million was issued to Suleiman, but along with it, was a complimentary card, with an account number written at the back. Tutare instructed him to pay the N100 million into the account. Suleiman had asked Tutare about VAT payment, to which Tutare told him to deduct 10 per cent as tax and to credit the account at the back of the card belonging to Nyame with  N80 million, and bring N10 million to  him.

“Suleiman duly paid the cheque into Alusab’s account and acted on the N80million as instructed, as per the complimentary card. He also gave N10 million to Tutare at his residence through his house aide, Husseini Ali.

“The confession of Suleiman sparked an extensive investigation, which saw the EFCC spreading its dragnet across the State Government House, the Ministry of Finance, and several companies. Tutare, himself was invited for questioning and he confirmed the  testimony of Suleiman, but stressed that he acted on the instruction of Nyame,  and that the N80 million was paid into  the account of Salmon Global Ventures Nigeria Ltd.”

The EFCC afterwards unraveled a slew of fraudulent financial activities perpetrated in the ministry of finance, with Nyame being the chief actor, including ordering Dennis Nev, then Permanent Secretary, Government House, to raise N101 million for a one-day presidential visit in 2005.”

The EFCC also explained that although Nyame made spirited moves to defend himself, his defence did not convince the judge.

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