The Sun News

N1.26bn fraud: Ex-Plateau gov, Dariye, bags 14 years jail term

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting at Gudu, convicted and sentenced former Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, to has 14 years imprisonment, for diverting public funds to the tune of N1.126billion.

Dariye was found guilty and convicted on 15, out of the 23-count charge bothering on criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation of Plateau State Ecological Funds to the tune of N1.162 billion.

The former governor was sentenced to a maximum of 14 years for criminal breach of trust, with additional two years for criminal misappropriation which are to run concurrently.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Adebukola Banjoko said she was overwhelmed by the brazen act of looting of nearly half a billion of Plateau state ecological fund.

She said bank statements obtained during prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) showed that the convict was richer than the state.
Banjoko, who said that she had no personal animosity against the convict, noted that outside the ecological fund, the state funds were also looted beyond expectations.
The judgment, which was 11 years in the making, started in 2007, with amended charges of money laundering and diversion of Plateau ecological funds.

The convict is a serving senator representing Plateau Central senatorial district, lost out in the case after calling 16 defence witnesses.

The convict had filed an application before the Court of Appeal challenging the charges and the jurisdiction of the court in which the trial was to commence.
On February 27, the Supreme Court dismissed the convict’s appeal and ordered him to face his trial.

The EFCC was able to establish that Dariye used his fictitious company, Ebenezer Retnan Ventures Ltd, to siphon not only the funds of Plateau state but the ecological fund as well.

EFCC’s counsel Rotimi Jacobs urged the court to hand down a sentence capable of serving as deterrent to other public office holders.

Irked by the submission, Dariye shouted at Jacobs: “You are not God! Your name is Jacob. As a Christian, you should have mercy! You cannot predict my state of mind. Let’s not spoil tomorrow because of today. Can you raise your hand to swear there is a saint in Nigeria?” Dariye bellowed at Jacobs from the dock.

In her verdict, Justice Banjoko said she was not persuaded by Dariye’s claim of being a victim.

Decrying what she termed as “brazen act of systematic looting” while the defendant held sway as the defendant, the judge noted that Dariye was, at a point, richer than his state.

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