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Former Nigerian governor jailed for five years for corruption

YOLA, Nigeria (Reuters) - A former Nigerian state governor was jailed for five years on Monday after being found guilty of corruption related to procurement of cars while in office, a judge said.

James Bala Ngilari - who was governor of northeastern Adamawa state for seven months until May 2015 - was convicted of awarding a contract for the procurement of 25 vehicles at a cost of 167 million naira ($548,891) without following due process.

Convictions of serving and past government officials remain rare in Nigeria, despite President Muhammadu Buhari making a crackdown on corruption a central plank of his government's approach after taking office in May 2015.

"The only thing is to give you the minimum sentence of five years" Justice Nathan Musa said.

The judge said the conviction would be a warning to serving governors to respect the rule of law.

Ngilari's lawyers said their client would appeal against the sentence.

Ngilari was found guilty of five of the 17 charges leveled against him in September 2016 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the financial crime agency's spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said on Monday.

He originally took office as the state's deputy governor in 2012 but took over as governor two years later following the impeachment of his predecessor. He served for seven months until the current Adamawa state governor won an election in 2015.

($1 = 304.2500 naira)

(Reporting by Emmanuel Ande and Percy Dabang; Additional reporting by Garba Muhammad and Alexis Akwagyiram, in London; Editing by Alison Williams)

 

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