A former Commissioner in Adamawa State, Mr John Elias, completed a 10-year jail term on Thursday saying he suffered for a crime he was falsely accused of.
Elias, who was at separate times Commissioner of Finance and of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs during the time of Governor Boni Haruna (1999-2003), came out of prison telling newsmen that the charge against him was made up by his political enemies.
He said a judge of the Federal High Court in Yola convicted him of defrauding the Adamawa State Government of N51 million but the money was given to him for safekeeping.
He said the N51 million was contributed in 2002 by chairmen of the 21 local government areas for the Bring Back Boni (BBB) project for Boni’s second term.
He explained that the BBB committee did not have any account when the first tranche of the contribution was made and the committee deposited the money in his account.
According to him, a petition by one Senator Paul Wampana against him that he stole government money, used the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under the chairmanship of Ibrahim Lamurde (an Adamawa indigene) to whip up issues against him.
“It was the BBB project’s money found in my account that EFCC used against me,” Elias said, adding that this was even after he brought witnesses who testified that the money was contributed by the 21 LGA chairmen and put in his care.
“I was jailed over what I didn’t commit. If you are a thief, you should be able to benefit from the proceeds of stealing. The money in question, I gave it all to the person who was intended to have it. I did not remove a dime from it,” Elias said.
He expressed thanks to God, however, for being alive to tell his story.
“I thank God I’m alive and healthy and some of my enemies are no more today; many of those who live are in pitiful condition.
“I forgive all of them. Who knows, I probably would have been in one problem or the other if I was not in jail The Bible says all things work together for good,” he said.