- Plateau grieves over former governor
Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja and Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) wednesday said the conviction of two prominent members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye, in quick succession by a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, had put to bed the charge by critics that the commission was lukewarm in prosecuting chieftains of the ruling party for corruption.
This is coming as more reactions have continued to pour in from the people of Plateau State who are grief-stricken over last Tuesdayâ€™s judgment of a Federal High Court, Abuja, that sentenced Dariye to 14 years imprisonment, describing the decision of the court as too fierce.
Nyame and Dariye, both former two-term Governors of Taraba and Plateau States respectively, were recently convicted and sentenced to many years in prison on corruption charges.
According to EFCC, â€œNyame was imprisoned for criminal misappropriation, diversion of public funds, and breach of public trust; while Dariye was sentenced for criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds in the course of Nyameâ€™s trial, the prosecution called 14 witnesses and presented documentary evidence, which among other things revealed that the N250 million was shared and never utilised for the purpose for which it was approved.
â€œA total of N180 million was diverted to the bank account of Salman Global Ventures Limited, which provided no services for the state. On his part, Dariye diverted about N1.16 billion Ecological Fund meant for the state to his personal use, including transferring monies to Ebenezer Retnan Ventures (an unregistered company managed by him) and Pinnacle Communications Limited.â€™â€™
In a statement issued by the Head of Media and Publicity of the agency, Wilson Uwujiaren, the commission added that in proving its case against Dariye, EFCC called 10 witnesses, including Peter Clark, a detective constable with the United Kingdom Metropolitan Police in London, who investigated Dariye in the UK for money laundering offence, adding that both trials had been ongoing for 11 years and towards the end of the proceedings, the two convicts changed their political camps, moving from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling APC.
It further stated: â€œDariye, who won election to the Senate on the platform of the PDP, decamped to the APC at a critical phase of his trial, when the prosecution had called all its vital witnesses and conviction appeared imminent.
â€œNot surprisingly, this fueled speculation that the gambit was a calculated move to stave off imminent conviction. But rather than slow proceedings, his trial accelerated, forcing the defence to close its case, thus setting the stage for the judgment of June 12.â€™â€™
Former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, is still being prosecuted in court by the EFCC despite crossing over to the APC. Indeed, the commission has closed its case in that matter after calling several witnesses. But rather than open his defence, Kalu elected to file a â€œno case submission,â€™â€™ the anti-graft agency added.
â€œIt will be foolhardy for any politically exposed person under prosecution to think that mere change of political affiliation will guarantee immunity from prosecution.â€™â€™
EFCC said in the case of Dariye, one of the witnesses, Peter Clark, a former detective of the Metropolitan Police, came several times to give evidence only for proceedings to be frustrated with forced adjournments by Dariyeâ€™s lawyers, saying his passage from the UK to Nigeria and back was at the expense of Nigeria tax payers.
Meanwhile, more reactions have continued to pour in from the people of Plateau State over last Tuesdayâ€™s judgment of a Federal High Court, Abuja that sentenced Dariye, to 14 years imprisonment.
Reacting to the sentence, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Jos-based legal practitioner, Mr. Garba Pwul, described the sentence as a great loss to the people of Plateau Central senatorial district and the entire state.
Jailing Dariye, according to Pwul, means Plateau central has lost its seat in the National Assembly, and the entire state being incarcerated and cut off from the federal and political representation at the National Assembly.
Also speaking, an elder statesman and politician in the state, Chief John Mankilik, described the sentence of Dariye as â€œvery unfortunate and sad.â€
Mankilik appealed to the federal government to temper justice with mercy even though the judgment has been passed already, considering the contributions the former governor has made politically in the country.
Former Chairman of Mangu Local Government Area, Mr. Caleb Mutfwang, also said: â€œI felt very sad when I got the news of Dariye sentence.
â€œItâ€™s a sad thing for Plateau State; itâ€™s ending so badly for a man of great promise.â€