It was tears of joy as one-time Commissioner of Finance during Mr. Boni Haruna’s administration in Adamawa state, Mr John Elias Banana regained his freedom after spending 10 Years in jail after being convicted of defrauding the Adamawa state government.
Mr. John Elias Banana who also served as commissioner for Local government and Chieftaincy Affairs during the Boni-led administration was today, Thursday, set free from a correctional facility in Kaduna after completing the ten years jail term which run concurrently.
It could be recalled that the Ex-Commissioner of Finance, Local government and Chieftaincy Affairs was found guilty of defrauding the Adamawa state to the tune of N 51.5m and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment without an option of fine by a Federal High Court sitting in Yola, presided over by Justice Bilkus Bello Aliyu on the 4th of December, 2015.
The convicted former commissioner, who also contested against his former boss, Boni Haruna in the 2003 Governorship election was moved to Kaduna state special cell alongside other high-profile convicts in the wake of COVID 19 pandemic.
The elated John Elias said in a telephone chat shortly after he was released “I was convicted over a crime I didn’t commit, however, I have forgiven all those who were behind my imprisonment.”
While shedding tears of joy, the ex-commissioner added that the charges against him were schemed and manufactured by his enemies who were afraid of his growing political profile.
According to him, the Bring Boni Back (BBB) committee were not having any operating account when the first trench of the contribution came so the committee decided to use his account and deposited thirty-one million naira five hundred (31,500,000) in the first trench.
But Senator Paul Wampana (now late) petitioned him of stealing government’s money and the Economic and financial crime commission (EFCC) prosecuted him.
He said: “It was over Bring Boni Back ( BBB ) project’s money found on my account EFCC used it against me despite bringing witnesses and testified that the money was contributed by the 21 LGAs chairmen to bring Boni back in office, 2002.
“I was truly jailed over what I didn’t commit, bore the cross for others to be free.
“I thank God I’m alive and healthy and some of my enemies are no more today, many of them in pitiful condition.
“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 that was intended to have it, not a dime I removed from it,” John said
He continued to say that former Governor Boni Haruna and one Mohammed Bassi were accused of forgery during the case because of the new BBB account opened that he later transferred the money (N31,500,000).
The accusations against them were because the new account was having inconsistency in the data captured on it. Boni was the sole signatory and Bassi’s passport was also in the account.
With all the gangs up against me and making sure l got jailed, I have forgiven all of them, I am back and I will continue to do what God has created me to do.
“I forgive all those behind my imprisonment, who knows maybe I would have been in one problem or the other if I in was not jail, all things are working for my good and the holy books enjoin us to forgive one another,” he said.