*I will challenge that decision in the Appeal Court
In what seems to be the biggest anti-corruption trial under this government, a Yola High Court on Monday sentenced former governor of Adamawa State, Barrister James Bala Ngilari, to five years in prison without the option of fine.
He was found guilty of the corruption charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The court, presided over by Justice Nathan Musa, however, acquitted the former Secretary to the State Government, Andrew Welye and former Commissioner of Finance, Sunday Lamurde, who stood trial with the former governor on the same allegations.
Delivering judgement, Justice Musa said the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Ngilari violated the Public Procurement Act of the state by awarding contract for the procurement of 25 vehicles for his commissioners at the cost of N167 million without following due process.
He said Ngilari’s action amounted to executive lawlessness.
Musa said the five years was the least he could give Ngilari, whose lawyer, Samuel Toni (SAN), pleaded for leniency “in view of his (Ngilari) invaluable contribution while he was the governor of the state during the trying moment of insurgency”.
Musa said Ngilari would serve the sentence in the prison of his choice in the country “but for now he should start with Yola prison.”
Musa expressed the hope that the conviction and sentence of Ngilari would serve as a deterrent to serving governors who engage in doing things without following due process.
He said: “It is my hope that this conviction and sentence will serve as deterrent to serving governors.”
The judge however discharged and acquitted Welye and Lamurde, saying that the prosecutor could not prove the case against them.
Speaking to newsmen before he was taken away from the court, Ngilari said he would appeal the sentence.