TOP NEWS: How ex-Governor Dariye siphoned N1.2bn Plateau’s Ecological Fund – Witness

The trial of a former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye,
who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission, on a 23-count charge bordering on money
laundering and diversion of funds, continued on Monday with the
anti-graft agency presenting its witness before Justice Adebukola
Banjoko, of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja.
Mr. Dariye is accused of diverting about N1.2 billion from the
state’s Ecological Fund, to private companies and individuals.
Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, the
EFCC witness, Musa Sunday, a detective with the EFCC, provided
details into the findings of the investigative team that probed the
allegations against Mr Dariye.
Mr. Sunday told the court that the EFCC had in September 2004
received a petition from the office of the Attorney General of the
Federation, regarding a request by the UK Metropolitan Police for
the investigation of some companies linked to Mr. Dariye.
“The petition of the UK Metropolitan Police was sent by the AGF to
the EFCC, and it was subsequently referred to my team,” he said.
He told the court that the team immediately swung into action to
investigate the banks – All State Trust Bank, Lion Bank (now
Diamond Bank), companies and individuals allegedly involved in
the fraud.
“At the All State Trust Bank, we discovered an account whose
signatory was Haruna Dariye, but upon further investigation, we
found out that the signatory was actually the defendant (Joshua
Dariye),” he said.
According to him, it was discovered that the mandate of the
account at the bank, had no passport photo on it, but upon
interrogation of the bank manager, it was discovered that Mr.
Dariye owned the account and had on opening it, requested for a
waiver, which enabled him to open it without following the due
process of affixing his passport photo on the mandate form.
“We obtained the instruments used to open the account with the
bank and upon forensic examination, it was confirmed that the
signatory to the account was Dariye,” he said.
Report of the forensic unit, confirming the signature to be that of
Mr. Dariye was accepted as exhibit by the court.
Mr. Sunday further told the court that investigations revealed that
Mr. Dariye instructed the bank to disburse the money meant for
the state’s Ecological Fund into private companies that included
Ebenezer Ratnen Ventures and Pinnacle Communications Limited,
instead of paying the money into the Plateau State Government
account.
“We studied the accounts linked to Ebenezer Ratnen Ventures with
the bank, and discovered financial inflows including money from
the Ecological Fund,” he said.
The handwritten instruction asking the bank to disburse N1.162
billion to the companies was tendered as exhibit in the court.
Although G. S. Pwul, SAN, counsel to Mr. Dariye contended the
admissibility of the handwritten instruction, Justice Banjoko
overruled and accepted it as exhibit.
Justice Banjoko thereafter adjourned till January 26 for continuation
of the trial, expressing her determination to ensure a speedy
determination of the case.
Since his first arraignment on July 13, 2007 at the Federal High
Court, Abuja, Mr. Dariye had denied any wrongdoing and had his
legal team had filed several motions to delay the trial.
Following his “plea of not guilty” to the charges preferred against
him, the court had set aside November 13, 2007 for the
prosecution to open its case.
On the date fixed for trial to commence, Mr. Dariye filed a motion
before the court praying for an order to quash the 23-count
charge preferred against him on diverse grounds, including lack of
locus standi to prosecute him and jurisdiction to hear and
determine the case.
Mr. Dariye’s application was dismissed by the court on December
10, 2007. He proceeded on appeal, which also suffered the same
fate on June 17, 2010.
Not satisfied, the former governor proceeded to the Supreme
Court on July 13, 2010.
The Supreme Court, in its judgment delivered on February 27,
2015, found the appeal to be lacking in merit and consequently
dismissed it and ordered the court to commence expeditious trial
of the former governor.

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