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April 13, 2021

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Supreme Court affirms 10-year jail term for ex-Nigerian governor who looted N2billion public fund

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The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the 10-year jail term passed on a former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, who was convicted of criminal misappropriation and criminal breach of trust.

Mr Dariye was said to have looted N2billion public funds during his time as Plateau State governor, between 1999 and 2007.

The former governor, elected as the senator representing Plateau Central in the Nigerian Senate in 2015, was sentenced in June 2018 but still completed his tenure as a senator from jail in June 2019.

He led a partly successful appeal at the Supreme Court with a five-man panel of the court headed by Mary Odili, quashing his conviction in respect of criminal misappropriation in a unanimous decision handed down Friday.

The offences he was discharged of only attracted two years’ imprisonment and, so had no impact on his overall number of years of imprisonment.

The apex upheld the ex-govermor’s conviction in respect of criminal breach of trust, which attracted the 10-year jail term.

Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja had on June 12, 2018 convicted Mr Dariye and originally sentenced him to 14 years’ imprisonment on charges of criminal breach of trust and two years’ jail term for criminal misappropriation.

But following his appeal against the judgment, the Court of Appeal in Abuja on November 16, 2018, commuted the 14 years’ jail term to 10.

While the Court of Appeal affirmed his conviction, it held that section section 416 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, prohibited the imposition of maximum sentence on a first offender, such as the convict.

The former governor had further appealed to the Supreme Court.

Ejembi Emo, a member of the apex court’s panel noted that Mr Dariye’s appeal “succeeded in part” after quashing the ex-governor’s come conviction in respect of charges of criminal misappropriation.

A justice of the apex court, Helen Ogunwumiju, read the conclusion of the judgment on behalf of Mr Ejembi, without giving details on Friday.

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ALSO READ: FACT-CHECK: Did convicted Joshua Dariye make donations to Buhari’s campaign?

The Supreme Court’s judgment comes about 13 months after a five-man panel of the court, also led by Mrs Odili, affirmed the conviction and sentence of a former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame.

Mr Nyame was on May 30, 2018, convicted and sentenced by the same trial judge, Ms Banjoko, who had jailed him 14 years for criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation of N1.6billion.

Ms Banjoko’s judgment came less than two weeks after she convicted and sentenced Mr Dariye on June 12, 2018.

But the Court of Appeal in Abuja also reduced the 14 years’ imprisonment passed on Mr Nyame to 12 years and imposed a fine of N100m on him.

However, following the ex-governor’s further appeal to the apex court, the Ms Odili-led panel unanimously set aside the N100m fine but affirmed the 12 years’ imprisonment.

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