Supreme Court upholds Dariye’s 10-year jail term

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the 10-year jail term imposed on former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye upon his conviction on the offence of criminal breach of trust.

A five-man panel of the court, led by Justice Mary Odili, in a unanimous judgment, upheld Daruiye’s appeal in part, by quashing the one-year sentence imposed on him by the Court of Appeal in relation to the offence of criminal misappropriation.

Justice Ejembi Eko prepared the lead judgment, which was read on Friday by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju. Other members of the panel include Lawal Garba, Samuel Oseji and Tijani Abubakar.

The Supreme Court said: “The concurrent conviction of the appellant on the offence of criminal breach of trust, punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code is hereby affirmed…all other conviction of the appellant in respect of the offence of criminal misappropriation, are hereby quashed. Appeal succeeds in part.”

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Dariye had, in his appeal, prayed the Supreme Court to upturn the November 16, 2018 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which convicted him and sentenced him to 10 years for diverting public funds estimated at N1.162billion while he was Plateau governor.

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Stephen Adah, in its decision, upheld an earlier judgement by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), delivered on June 12, 2018.

The trial court convicted Dariye on 15 counts relating to the offences of criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation, contained in the 23-count charge on which he was tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In upholding Dariye’s conviction, the Court of Appeal noted that the prosecution, led by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) effectively proved its allegation of criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation against the ex-governor.

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The Appeal Court however faulted the trial court for convicting Dariye on counts 12 and 23, which it said the prosecution did not prove.

It also faulted the trial court for imposing the maximum sentences on both offences of criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation.

The Appeal Court proceeded to reduce the 14 years sentence for the offence of criminal breach of trust to 10 years, and reduced the two years sentence for criminal misappropriation to one year.

On February 7, 2020, the Supreme Court affirmed a similar conviction and sentence imposed on a former governor o Taraba State, Reverend Jolly Nyame on offence of criminal breach of trust for converting public funds estimated at N1.64billion.

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A five-man panel of the apex court unanimously upheld the conviction and 12-year imprisonment handed Nyame by the Court of Appeal, Abuja in a November 16, 2018 judgment, affirming Nyame’s conviction and sentencing by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The apex court partially upheld Nyame’s appeal by upholding the portion of the Court of Appeal judgment relating to conviction and sentencing, and proceeded to set aside the portion of the judgment which imposed millions of naira fines on the ex-governor.

Justice Amina Augie, who prepared and read the lead judgment, said the Court of Appeal imposed the fines without any prompting by either of the parties to the case.

Justice Augie said: “The lower court ought to have heard from the parties, especially, the appellant who appealed for the reduction of the sentence imposed by the trial court, before imposing those fines on him.

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“Allowing the appeal in its entirety is a tall order, but there is no question that the fines were a nullity.”

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