Fred Itua, Abuja
Senator Danjuma Goje has described his recent battle with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged misappropriation of funds as “persecution”.
According to Goje, the case against him was withdrawn by the Federal Government to save itself from embarrassment.
He said the case assumed the posture of persecution rather than a prosecution by the anti-graft agency, as he decried the recent outcry that greeted the withdrawal of an anti-corruption case against him by the Federal Government.
Speaking through his lawyer, Mr Paul Erokoro, Goje said it was strange that he was prosecuted for taking bank loans on behalf of his state, Gombe, when he was Governor.
“The two counts of the charge that were withdrawn by the Attorney-General were an embarrassing triviality. The charges had become more of persecution than prosecution,” he said.
“It was, therefore, no surprise to those familiar with the case when the Attorney-General of the Federation withdrew those ridiculous charges. The Attorney-General did the right thing and should be commended for saving the face and the resources of the government, by terminating the futile proceedings.”
Speaking extensively on the outcry regarding the withdrawn case, Goje stated:
“Following a spate of inaccurate and untrue reports in the media on the withdrawal of criminal charges against Sen. Danjuma Goje, it has become necessary for the correct facts to be publicly stated, to avoid genuine misunderstanding by well-meaning commentators and also expose the malicious insinuations of mischief makers.
“First of all, the so-called “N25 billion fraud” that has been bandied about in the media, never featured in the case. The sum total of all the monies mentioned in the charge was about N8 billion.
“Of that total, N5 billion was a loan taken from Access Bank for completion of infrastructural projects such as the Gombe airport, waterworks, numerous roads, Gombe Jewel Hotels, schools, hospitals and rural electrification. The bank testified in Court that the money was properly utilized for the projects. The EFCC investigators also confirmed to the Court that the projects were all completed.
“On the N1 billion agricultural loan, the Central Bank testified in Court that the loan was utilised in full compliance with the bank’s loan conditions.
“Other witnesses told the Court that the Governor never awarded any contract for the supply of food to Government House and Government Guest Houses during his tenure for the N1 billion alleged in the charge or for any other sum.
“The 19 counts of the Charge that were framed around the above monetary issues collapsed during the trial. The prosecution’s own witnesses completely exonerated the defendants. It was this reason that the 19 counts were all dismissed by the court, on the No Case submission.
“The two remaining counts challenged the Governor’s power to approve the recommendation of the Commissioner of Finance that the old, unserviceable buses of Gombe Line, be sold to the public, following the purchase of new ones.
“As every adult in Nigeria knows, the sale of unserviceable vehicles is a routine exercise periodically undertaken by the government and even by private organisations. This is the first time that the authority of a governor to approve such a sale has been made the subject of a criminal charge.”