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Dariye, Nyame: Imprison corrupt politicians like justice Banjoko, HEDA tells judges

By News Express on 19/06/2018

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•Joshua Daiyere, during his arraignment at the FCT High Court Gudu,in Abuja on Tuesday (12/6/18).
•Joshua Daiyere, during his arraignment at the FCT High Court Gudu,in Abuja on Tuesday (12/6/18).

HEDA Resource Centre, a justice-based movement has applauded the action of Justice Adebukola Banjoko of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Gudu, Abuja who on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, sentenced a former Governor of Plateau State and serving senator, Senator Joshua Dariye, to 14 years’ imprisonment on charges of criminal breach of trust and criminal appropriation of the state’s funds running to over N2bn.

It appealed to other judges to follow the footsteps of Justice Banjoko to restore confidence in the judiciary in Nigeria.

A statement issued in Lagos and signed by the Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju said that “Honourable Justice Adebukola Banjoko, in a judgment which lasted six and a half hours on Tuesday, convicted the ex-governor on 15 out the 23 counts charges preferred against him in July 2007 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC,” adding that the judge, barely fortnight ago, had imposed 14 years’ jail term on an ex-Governor of Taraba State, Reverend Jolly Nyame, on similar charges.

“I can’t imagine such a brazen act. Is it the transfer of as much as about half a billion Naira from the state’s Ecological Fund into a personal venture account? Everybody is a victim here,” the judge said.

“The judgment, which came at the end of over 10-year trial, saw over eight years of delay caused by Joshua Dariye’s appeals which attacked the validity and the competence of the charges leveled against him. The suspect took the trial through the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court even as he lost all the way. Dariye was said to have, on behalf of Plateau State, on July 19, 2001, collected a cheque for the sum N1‚161,162,900 from the Ecological Funds Office in Abuja, and deposited the cheque with his banker, the defunct Allstates Trust Bank Plc, Abuja branch, where he was said to be operating an account in the name of an unregistered company, Ebenezer Retnan Ventures.

“He was said to have cleared the funds with the bank “without paying the cheque into the account of Plateau State Government.” Following her analysis of the testimonies and exhibits tendered, the judge also said Dariye took steps to hide from the state government the source of the fund, which was released by the Federal Government “to address the ecological problems of the state.”

“Evidence before the Court revealed he paid N80m into the Union Home account of the then Permanent Secretary of Ecological Funds, Mr. Kingsley lkumah; N100m into the account of Marine Float Limited, a company owned by former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar.

This is a great day for the judicial system in Nigeria; and we laud the boldness of the judge, and the tenacity of the EFCC to pursue this case to the expected end, regardless of all the distractions and time-wasting tactics employed by the defendant,” the statement said.

“For too long, the Nigerian Judiciary has faced serious criticisms from all members of the society due to the recent allegations of corruption raised against the judges.

“However, we at HEDA Resource Centre as a justice-based movement, while we applaud the action of Justice Adebukola Banjoko, we reiterate that except more actions like these are seen throughout the judicial system, the collapse of public confidence in the justice system will have disastrous effects on our democracy and will negatively affect the capacity of the legal profession to thrive and flourish in the country.

“The recent epochal decision of the Supreme court in Metuh v. FRN has provided a beacon of hope with regards to the enforcement of the provisions of Section 306 of the ACJA, 2015 to the effect that the provisions of the said section does not go against the tenets of constitutional provisions of fair hearing as challenged by opponents of the abolition of stay of proceedings under it and as such does not impede the rights of an accused under Section 36 of the constitution. Never should the country be subjected to the opprobrium of criminal trials dragging for years,” the statement noted.

Based on the above submissions, HEDA said: “We call on the courts to uphold the statutes of justice that make righteousness, equitableness and moral rightness a gauge by which all members of a society, rich or poor, have access to justice. On this note, we send out a clarion call to other members of the judiciary to step up to the gauntlet thrown by Justice Adebukola Banjoko; we ask for the implementation of these action points:

“•The judiciary shall decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.

“•The provision of the 2015 Administration of Criminal Justice Act empowers the judge not to grant adjournments for more than 14 days: it insists that trial must be from day-to-day and not be susceptible to judges and lawyers who indulge in unduly prolonging trials. We ask that members of the justice system who indulge in this reprehensible act should be visited by the provisions of the law.

“•Justice Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, has ordered all the Heads of Courts to designate at least one court in their various jurisdictions as Special Courts, solely for the purpose of hearing and speedy determination of corruption and financial crime cases; this is an expedient warning that it would no longer be business as usual for corrupt elements of the society and the judiciary.

“•The Supreme Court justices have also noted the unfortunate use of stay of proceedings principle to delay cases and have condemned this act in several cases. For example, Justice Nweze JSC, in his judgment on this same Joshua Dariye case, held to the effect that the acts of adopting various frivolous delay tactics by politically exposed citizens are deplorable and lawyers should not engage in this.

“As always at HEDA, while we strongly advocate the need for judicial independence, it is imperative that the judges rise up to the occasions and ensure defence lawyers don't frustrate trial processes. At these critical times, all arms of government must be seen to work together for the common good of Nigerians; this includes a much-needed transparency in their dealings.”

“Once again, we say kudos to the EFCC for their relentless strive in the fight for justice; we commend the lead prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) for his uprightness and sacrifices; and we also laud the bravery of Justice Adebukola Banjoko, in her we have a titan of justice who isn’t afraid of disrupting the status quo. We salute her resilience and we call on other members of the Nigerian Judiciary to tow this same line: justice is blind; it should be visited on the poor and the rich, the state, the accused and the victim,” the movement declared.

Source News Express

Posted 19/06/2018 12:26:47 PM


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