For the second time in less than two weeks, Justice Adebukola Banjoko of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Gudu has convicted another politician, Senator Joshua Dariye, a former Governor of Plateau State. He was found guilty of diversion of public funds to the tune of N1.126 billion.
The judge had in May 30 convicted former Taraba State governor, Jolly Nyame and sentenced him to 14 years in prison for diverting N1.64 billion in May 2007. Dariye, who also faces 14 years imprisonment, was governor of Plateau State from 1999 to 2007 and is currently the Senator representing Plateau Central. He was found guilty of criminally misappropriating the States N1.126 billion ecological funds, breach of public trust and his oath of office.
The tearful convict, who said he was a victim of circumstance, pleaded for leniency. But the court, in the judgment, which lasted over six hours, found him guilty on 15 counts out of 23. He was therefore, discharged on eight counts for lack of sufficient evidence.
Dariye told the court through his counsel, Paul Erokoro (SAN) that his bank deceived him. Counsel to the prosecuting Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), urged the court to impose the maximum sanction, saying Dariye failed to show any remorse for the crime he committed.
“My lord should consider the conduct of the defendant who had stalled his trial since June 2007. Is he remorseful about what he has done? He is not! He has not shown any remorse. He still believes that he has not done anything wrong.
“The prisons are congested with the poor and those that cannot afford their daily meal, but the big men are not there,” he said. Jacob urged the court to give a sentence capable of serving as a deterrent to other public office holders.
Defense Counsel Erokoro, however, challenged the submission of Jacobs, accusing him of deliberately inciting the court to take severe decision against his client. But Justice Banjoko in her verdict held that she was not persuaded by Dariye’s claim of being a victim and therefore sentenced him to two years imprisonment on each of the counts.
He was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment on crimes bordering on misappropriation and criminal breach of trust and the sentence would run concurrently.The judge also directed EFCC to return all the funds it recovered in the course of the investigation into the coffers of Taraba State government.