The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Gudu, Abuja, on Tuesday sentenced a former Governor of Plateau State and serving senator, Joshua Dariye, to 14 years’ imprisonment on charges of criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of over N1.16bn belonging to the state.
Justice Adebukola Banjoko in a judgment which took her six and a half hours to read, convicted the ex-governor on 15 out the 23 counts preferred against him.
Joshua Chibi Dariye (born July 27, 1957) assumed office as the Governor of Plateau State, Nigeria on May 29, 1999 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He was re-elected for another four-year term starting in May 2003, and was impeached in November 2006 though the impeachment was nullified by the Nigerian appeal court in March 2007, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court the following month effectively returning Dariye to office for the remainder of his tenure.
During his time as governor, he was arrested in London, England on 20 January 2004, with large sums of money. Serving governors have immunity from criminal prosecution and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), an agency of the current administration established to check corrupt practices is waiting for 2007 to charge him to court for money laundering.
Joshua Dariye was impeached on November 13, 2006. His deputy, Michael Botmang , became the new governor. On March 10, 2007, after a Court of Appeals ordered Dariye reinstated as governor, the Plateau State Government announced its intention to appeal to the
Supreme Court .
On 27 April 2007, the Supreme Court refused the appeal of the Plateau State Government and ordered the reinstatement of Dariye with immediate effect.
Following his reinstatement, Dariye’s term of office as Governor of Plateau State concluded on 29 May 2007.
Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in 2007, preferred 23 counts of money laundering involving alleged diversion of about N1.126billion Plateau State Government’s ecological funds against Dariye.
The charges were filed before a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abujas against Dariye. He pleaded not guilty to the charges following which the trial judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko, fixed November 13, 2007 for the commencement of trial.
But before that date, Dariye filed an application, challenging the competence of the charges and the jurisdiction of the court. He argued that he ought to be tried before a Plateau State High Court and not the FCT High Court.
On December 13, 2007, the trial judge heard and dismissed Dariye’s application for lacking in merit. Dariye appealed against the ruling of the court. But the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of Justice Banjoko. Dariye subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court.
But the apex court, on February 27, 2015 dismissed Dariye’s appeal and ordered him to submit himself for trial.
Following the Supreme Court’s judgment delivered on 27 February 2015, the former Plateau State Governor’s trial resumed after about nine years of delay on 26 January 2016.
The EFCC called its first prosecution witness, Musa Sunday, who is a detective with the anti-graft agency and who was involved in the investigation of Dariye for the alleged crime. Sunday, during his testimony before Justice Banjoko gave a breakdown of his team’s report of investigation revealing how the ecological funds obtained by Dariye, as then governor of Plateau State, was allegedly diverted.