Wednesday, 13 June 2018


On Tuesday, June 12, Justice Adebukola Banjoko delivered the final judgment on the 
protracted case. Here is a detail of how the case that led to the conviction of the former governor unfolded:

Dariye’s Defence
Starting with the issues raised by Dariye’s counsel, Justice Banjoko said Dariye’s
lawyers, led by former Attorney General of the Federation, Kanu Agabi, contended that the charge against the defendant was defective for a number of reasons. According to Agabi, the fact that the charge sheet against his client did not indicate that the diverted funds were taken “dishonestly” meant that a case of fraudulent intention could not be proven against Dariye. Agabi also submitted that the prosecution had a duty to present all the participants in the said diversion in court as witnesses. He further argued that failure of the prosecution to present all the participants rendered their evidence defective. Agabi also submitted that the prosecution ought to have been bound by the findings of the Plateau State Assembly committee which found no case against the defendant.
Similarly, Agabi said that the case against his client should have been viewed with the principle of estoppel, which requires that once a ruling is delivered regarding a given issue, no other court should commence trial on a case of similar composition with the one already decided upon by the sister court. Agabi cited a previous ruling where six bankers were tried for their alleged involvement in the said transfer while Dariye served as governor. He contended that since the Federal High Court in Kaduna acquitted the bankers for lack of evidence, the trial of Dariye on the same diversion amounts to an abuse of court process. According to Agabi, the fate that befell the bankers should also be advanced on his client. Agabi further argued that the pieces of evidence adduced by the same prosecution in both trials were incoherent.

EFCC’s Argument
On their part, the prosecution, led by Rotimi Jacobs asked the court to determine whether having recourse to the evidence adduced in court, the prosecution was yet to prove its case against the defendant. Jacobs responded to Agabi’s submissions regarding the bankers citing English Criminal laws to prove that the principle of estoppel did not apply to criminal cases. He also argued that the shreds of evidence presented in Dariye’s case were conclusive for the case in which they were brought and in compliance with section 173 of the evidence Act.

Judge’s Response
Justice Banjoko said the issues raised by the defence included fundamental matters that needed to be analysed. She cited parts of the judgment from the previous ruling mentioned by Agabi. The judge said the ruling of the federal court acquitting the bankers was premised on the fact that the prosecution did not include the principal actor in the case of misappropriation. Reading through the previous judgment, Banjoko said the failure of the EFCC to include Dariye in the charge meant that “no iota of evidence was adduced in court to show that the cheques (acted upon by the bankers) were fraudulently procured. I am unable to see how the disbursement has shown any dishonest misappropriation. Did Mr. Dariye misappropriate it for himself? If so, no evidence was shown,” Banjoko stated while reading through the previous judgment by the federal high court judge, Liman J. “It is clear from the above that the facts and  evidence of misappropriation were not brought to the fore,” Banjoko said. She added
that the decision of the federal court to discharge the bankers was accurate except that it was due to the absence of Dariye in that trial. Premium Times reports that Dariye was not included in the 2005 trial of the bankers and their bank because he was in office as governor of Plateau state and then enjoyed
immunity from prosecution. Although the bankers were acquitted, the bank was found guilty as charged. Reacting to Agabi’s argument that the prosecution ought to have presented same witnesses as those adduced during the trial of the bankers, Justice Banjoko said it is not inconceivable to deduce that the class of evidence to prove a case of misappropriation was not the same as the class of evidence to prove the offence of aiding the said diversion.
On the controversial acquitting of Dariye by the Plateau State House of Assembly committee, Banjoko said that the committee had recognised its inability to proceed with
investigations into the offence against Dariye following the filing of the matter in court.
She said the committee noted that the matter had become subjudice and was about
suspending its investigation before it dramatically announced a decision, discharging Dariye from allegations against him. “That conclusion was gotten from the air,” Banjoko said.
Regarding the allegations that the statements made by the defendant were given in duress, the judge said the defendant’s counsel should have raised the objection ahead of his final address to the court. “Learned silk ought to have advanced his objection during the trial,” Banjoko said.

The Main Offence
Going into the substantive matter, Banjoko narrated the developments that followed an
earlier investigation by Peter Clark, a detective constable with the Metropolitan police of the United Kingdom. She said Clark’s investigation led to the discovery of £816,000 pounds traced to Dariye abroad. After diligent investigation, Dariye was invited for questioning, then granted bail in December 2004 with an undertaking to return to the UK for further questions.Despite promising the security agency that he would return, it was gathered that Dariye never went back to respond to the interrogations of the metro police. He is still being sought by the UK authorities. Shortly after Dariye left office in 2007, his trial in Nigeria began in earnest and prevented the defendant’s extradition to the UK. In Nigeria, Dariye was accused of distributing the Plateau State ecological funds to various groups, including the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The diverted funds were transferred to a secret account with the name Ebenezer Rethnam, domiciled with a defunct bank. Although the said account was
reportedly opened secretly and managed with a waiver that prevented its owner from
submitting an identification photograph, Justice Banjoko said the evidence in court
indicates clearly that Ebenezer Rethnam and Dariye were the same. She mentioned some of the diverted funds channeled through the bank from the Plateau state account at the CBN. Banjoko noted the submissions of a defence witness who confirmed part of the money was diverted to the PDP. She condemned the submissions of the defence witness who told the court that he viewed no wrong in Dariye’s disbursement of public funds to the PDP, since “his party was the one in power.” “From his statement, it shows that he has no knowledge of party funds of even his own party. Funds of Plateau state government and that of the PDP are exclusive. They never mix. His submission is quite disturbing and shocking and is an embarrassment to the party,” Banjoko said. After listing an array of such dubious disbursement of funds, Banjoko said Dariye should have even attempted to explain his actions by entering the witness box. “It is expected that he should have entered the witness box and explained why the disbursements were made. He said nothing.”

The Historic Sentence/Verdict
“In the absence of concrete evidence justifying these payments, it can safely be described as misappropriation,” Banjoko ruled. Justice Banjoko found Dariye guilty of 15 out of the 23-count charge brought against him. Thus, Dariye was convicted for two main categories of offences, namely criminal breach of trust which attracts a two-year sentence for each affected count and criminal misappropriation, which has a penalty of 14 years. The sentences are to run concurrently, which means he will spend a maximum of 14 years in jail.

Drama As Dariye Interrupts His Lawyer, Begs For Mercy
Shortly before the verdict was read, Dariye’s lawyer, Paul Erokoro, described his client’s
actions as the product of ignorance. Erokoro blamed the military system and the bank for the actions of his client. According toErokoro, Dariye who is a chartered accountant, was misguided when he approached the bank for financial assistance. Responding, Jacobs, EFCC’s lawyer, drew the attention of the court to the many years of legal battle embarked upon by the defendant. As he was speaking, Dariye, in a dramatic move, suddenly stood up and asked the prosecution lawyer to be merciful. “Be merciful. You are a Christian, your name is Jacob,” he said. The judge noted the efforts of Erokoro but added that “there should not compromise in corruption. Corruption is corruption.”
After the judgment, Dariye was led into a police van from where he was transported to
Kuje prison which would be his home for 14 years unless the ruling is upturned by the
appeal court.

By Mercy Kukah

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