Why corruption charges against me were withdrawn – Goje

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Danjuma Goje, Senator representing Gombe Central at the Nigerian Senate.

Danjuma Goje, lawmaker representing Gombe Central at the Senate has explained why corruption charges preferred against him by the federal government was withdrawn.

Mr Goje whose trial has been going on since 2010 for looting over N5 billion when he held sway as governor of the state, saw the end in sight of the corruption charges against him after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari who asked him to shield his Senate Presidency ambition.

Mr Buhari after a meeting with the former governor asked the latter to step down for the preferred candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) Ahmed Lawan for the top job. He did and days after, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) handed over the trial that has been going on for over eight years to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

At the next sitting last month, a legal representative from the office of the AGF told the court they were unwilling to continue with the trial and it was struck out.

Explaining why the trial was withdrawn, in a statement signed by Paul Erokoro (SAN), the lawmaker said it was because the charges against him were an embarrassing triviality

“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,” the statement read.

“First of all, the so-called “N25b 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 N8b.

“Of that total, N5b 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 N1b 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 N1b alleged in the charge or for any other sum.

“On the N1.6b for the supply of English Dictionaries for primary and secondary schools, the Court was told that UBEC gave its approval and that the contract was advertised in two newspapers and that reputable book publishers and suppliers tendered and that SUBEB awarded the contract to the lowest bidder.

“As can be seen from the above, 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.

“The overused buses, many of which had become scraps, had been in use as commercial passenger vehicles for 7 to 8 years.

“The buses were valued by a proper Board of Survey at the cumulative sum of N22.5m. That value was realised from the sale and the proceeds were paid into the account of the Gombe State Government.

“The prosecution witnesses all testified that the procedure was proper and that the Governor did not buy any of the buses and took no benefit personally from the sale.

“The star witness of the Prosecution, a senior EFCC operative who headed the investigation, told the court that throughout their investigation, no money belonging to the Gombe State Government was traced to the Governor, his family members or associates.

“The witnesses also testified that the Governor was a prudent manager of Government funds and that it was he who even introduced Due Process into procurement procedures in Gombe State.

“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. 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,” it added.