Nigeria’s Supreme Court has okayed the ten-year jail term placed on former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye for alleged criminal breach of trust.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju on behalf of the five-man panel of the court, led by Justice Mary Odili, the court held that the Appeal Court was right in affirming the earlier verdict of the Court of Appeal which upheld the sentence passed on Dariye by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of an Abuja High Court.
The court however quashed the second charge of criminal misappropriation of funds preferred against the former Governor.
Senator 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 the Governor.
Lawyer to the EFCC reacts to the judgment just as the counsel to Senator Dariye declined to speak to Journalists.
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 Senator 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 Senator 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.
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.
Arguing the appeal before the Supreme Court on December 17 last year, Dariye’s lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN), a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), asked the court to either reverse his client’s conviction or reduce the 10-year jail term handed him by the Court of Appeal.
Mister Agabi, after adopting his written argument, prayed the court to allow his client’s appeal and set aside Dariye’s conviction and sentence.
He argued that Dariye’s conviction was speculative and urged the court to show mercy on him.
Mister Agabi added: “Here is a man sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. 10 years is more than a lifetime for some people. You should show him mercy.”
He however added that, should the court be minded to disallow the appeal and affirm the decision of the Court of Appeal, it should reduce the sentence substantially.
Lawyer to the respondent, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) countered and urged the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the concurrent findings of the two lower courts.
Jacobs contended that a public servant was not better than the common man in the eyes of the law.
He added: “As for the sentence passed, it has been reduced to 10 years. That he (the appellant) is a public servant does not mean he should go free.” (Channels)