By BillyGraham Abel, Yola
The Court of Appeal sitting in Yola, Adamawa State, yesterday discharged and acquitted former Governor of Adamawa State, Bala James Ngilari, of five counts bordering on corruption and unlawful procurement of 25 Hilux vehicles during his tenure.
Justice Olayemi Folashade Omoleye said Ngilari was acquitted and discharged on the grounds that he was not a procurement entity and thereby set aside Justice Nathan Musa’s ruling, which convicted the former governor and sentenced him to a five years imprisonment without an option of fine.
Ngilari was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside the then Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ibrahim Andrew Welye, and former Commissioner of Finance, Barr. Jonathan Sanda Lamurde, over misconduct and criminal conspiracy surrounding the expenditure of N160 million without recourse to due process.
Speaking shortly after the ruling, counsel to Ngilari, Obed Wadzani, said the charges were based on the state procurement’s law, adding that the charges did not state what offence he committed.
Said he: “As at the time Ngilari awarded the contract for purchase of the said vehicles, he was a sitting governor and the governor is a public officer.
“Now the Court of Appeal said the state procurement law did not envisage a public officer for ministries and a procurement department, not a sitting governor.”