SERAP Asks Court To Declare Ex-Govs Dariye, Nyame’s Pardon Illegal

A photo combination of SERAP’s logo and President Muhammadu Buhari

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari for granting pardon to former governors of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye, and Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame.

Dariye and Nyame were investigated, prosecuted, and convicted for stealing N1.16 billion and N1.6 billion respectively from their state treasuries, while they were in office between 1999 and 2007.

After leaving office in 2007, they were recently pardoned alongside 157 others convicted for various offences.

SERAP in the suit number fled last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, asked the court to “declare illegal, and incompatible with the oath of office, and public interest the recent pardon granted to former governors of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye, and Taraba State, Rev Jolly Nyame who are serving jail terms for corruption.”

According to a statement issued on Sunday by the group’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, (SERAP) is asking the court for “a declaration that the exercise of the power of prerogative of mercy to grant pardon to Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame is compatible with the public interest, the oath of office, and constitutional duty to combat corruption.”

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In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “If the presidential pardon is not set aside, impunity for corruption will increase, and many influential politicians will continue to escape justice for their alleged crimes.

“It is in the interest of justice to set aside the pardon for Mr. Dariye and Mr Nyame. A presidential pardon for grand corruption cases is incompatible with the rule of law, as it undermines equality before the law.

“The pardon power ought not to be exercised to shield influential politicians and politically exposed persons from justice and accountability.”

SERAP is also asking the court for “an order directing and mandating President Buhari and future presidents to consider the public interest, the requirements of oath of office, and constitutional duty to combat corruption in any future exercise of the pardon power.”

SERAP is further arguing that “the presidential pardon power must be exercised in good faith, and in line with the provisions of Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution on fundamental rights.”

Joined in the suit as Defendant is Mr Abubakar Malami, (SAN), Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi read in part: “The pardon power, if properly exercised, can help to protect citizens against a possible miscarriage of justice.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Court Reduces Jolly Nyame’s Jail Term, Orders Him To Pay N495m Fine

Court Denies Ex-Taraba Governor Nyame Bail
File photo: Jolly Nyame

 

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reduced the jail term of the former governor of Taraba State, Reverend Jolly Nyame from 14 years to 12 years.

The court also fined the former governor the sum of N495million.

The lead judgment on Friday held that the lower court erred when it took it upon itself not to impose fine as such in counts 1, 2 and 6 that have to do with criminal breach of trust.

RELATED: Appeal Court Reduces Dariye’s Jail Term To 10 years

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Gudu, Abuja had earlier this year sentenced the former to 14 years imprisonment after being convicted of misappropriating N1.64 billion from the state’s treasury through shoddy stationery contracts which he awarded at the tail of his eight years administration in 2007.

Court Denies Ex-Taraba Governor Nyame Bail

Court Denies Ex-Taraba Governor Nyame Bail
File photo: Jolly Nyame

 

The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Gudu, Abuja, has refused to grant bail to a former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame.

Nyame, who is currently serving 14-year jail term in Kuje Prison, Abuja, was denied bail on Wednesday by Justice Adebukola Banjoko who dismissed an application filed by the former governor.

The judge had convicted the former governor in May on corruption charges involving the diversion of monies to the tune of N1.6 billion belonging to Taraba State.

Ruling on the bail application today, Justice Banjoko held that the request was “unmeritorious” as bail cannot be granted to a convict as a matter of right.

She, however, stated that such application can only the granted under exceptional circumstances which could include ill health.

Nyame had applied for bail on the grounds that he was denied access to traditional herbal medicine with which he was treating hypertension and diabetes, where he is currently serving his term.

The judge had convicted Mr Nyame on May 30 of criminal breach of trust in the fraud case preferred against him by the

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had accused Nyame of criminally misappropriating the funds while he served as governor between 1999 and 2007.

Justice Banjoko found him guilty of 27 out of the 41 counts levelled against him and jailed him for 14 years without an option of fine.

Nyame, Dariye’s Convictions Show We’re Not Biased – EFCC

Nyame, Dariye’s Convictions Show We’re Not Biased – EFCC
File photo

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has been vindicated by the convictions of two former governors and prominent members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye, by a Federal Capital Territory High Court.

Spokesman for the anti-graft agency, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement on Wednesday that the court judgements have proven the critics of the EFCC wrong that it is lukewarm in prosecuting APC chieftains for corruption.

File photo: Jolly Nyame

 

Nyame and Dariye, both former two-term governors of Taraba and Plateau states respectively, were convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison on corruption charges.

While Nyame was convicted of criminal misappropriation, diversion of public funds, and breach of public trust, Dariye was sentenced for criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds.

In the course of Nyame’s trial, the prosecution called 14 witnesses and presented documentary evidence, which among other things, revealed that the N250 million was shared and never utilised for the purpose for which it was approved.

A total of N180 million was diverted to the bank account of Salman Global Ventures Limited, which provided no services for the state.

On his part, Dariye diverted about N1.16 billion Ecological Fund meant for the state, to his personal use, including transferring monies to Ebenezer Retnan Ventures (an unregistered company reportedly managed by him) and Pinnacle Communications Limited.

In proving its case against Dariye, the EFCC called 10 witnesses, including a detective constable with the UK Metropolitan Police in London, Peter Clark, who investigated Dariye in the UK for money laundering offence.

File photo: Joshua Dariye

 

Both trials had been ongoing for 11 years and towards the end of the proceedings, the two convicts changed their political camps, moving from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling APC.

According to the anti-graft agency, Dariye who won election into the Senate on the platform of the PDP decamped to the APC at a critical phase of his trial, when the prosecution had called all its vital witnesses and conviction appeared imminent.

Not surprisingly, this fueled speculation that the gambit was a calculated move to stave off imminent conviction but rather than slow proceedings, his trial accelerated, forcing the defence to close its case and setting the stage for the judgment of June 12.

The EFCC revealed further that a former Accountant General of Kebbi State and member of the APC, Mohammed Dakingari, was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 70 years in prison.

They noted, however, that former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu, is still being prosecuted in court by despite crossing over to the APC.

“Indeed, the Commission has closed its case in that matter after calling several witnesses. But rather than open his defence, Kalu elected to file a ‘no case submission’.

“It will be up to the court to determine whether the Commission has presented enough evidence to warrant him to enter his defence,” the statement read.

Alleged Corruption: EFCC Says Defecting To APC Won’t Stop Orji Kalu’s Case
File photo: Orji Kalu

 

Referring to the cases listed above, the anti-corruption agency maintained that it is apolitical and not bothered by the political colours and affiliations of crime suspects.

“Rather than entertain idle gossips who thrive on haranguing the EFCC with charges of selectivity, these two recent convictions offer Nigerians the opportunity to better appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of the Commission, given the enormous resources in cash and man-hours that went into proving the cases against the two former governors, both of which went up to the Supreme Court on preliminary issues.

“Particularly in the case of Dariye, one of the witnesses, Peter Clark, a former detective of the Metropolitan Police, came several times to give evidence only for proceedings to be frustrated with forced adjournments by Dariye’s Lawyers. His passage from the UK to Nigeria and back was at the expense of Nigeria taxpayers,” the statement added.

N1.6bn Fraud: CACOL Lauds Judiciary For Convicting Ex-Governor Nyame

Former Governor Jolly Nyame at court premises on Wednesday, May 30, 2018.

 

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has hailed an Abuja High Court for sentencing the former Governor of Taraba State, Reverend Jolly Nyame, to 14 years’ imprisonment for looting N1.6billon.

The group described Nyame’s conviction as a further reassurance that Nigeria’s Judiciary and President Muhammadu Buhari mean business in ensuring that no corruption culprit goes unpunished.

In a press statement issued on Thursday by CACOL’s Chairman, Debo Adeniran the group recalled that Nyame’s trial started in 2007 but was stalled by his team of lawyers who filed many applications to frustrate the efforts of the prosecution but was finally found guilty and convicted of 27 out of the 41 charges leveled against him.

READ ALSO: Court Convicts Ex-Taraba Governor, Nyame Of Fraud

“It is gratifying to note that the anti-corruption crusade is gradually exposing those who have been hiding under the cover of religion, political power or social status.

“We are overly delighted with the deterrent punishment meted out to the Ex-Governor. The anti-corruption war has before now been trapped in an endless loop of inconclusive cases, and we hope this victory against Nyame would facilitate the speedy and diligent trials and convictions of pending corruption cases,” the statement read in part.

The group, therefore, urged the Buhari-led administration to treat anyone with a corruption petition with all seriousness.

According to CACOL, the prosecution of corruption suspects shouldn’t be slowed down or halted without diligent investigation due to political expediency.

Court Jails Ex-Taraba Gov Nyame 14 Years Without Fine

Former Governor Jolly Nyame at court premises on Wednesday, May 30.

 

The Federal Capital Territory High Court has sentenced a former governor of Taraba State, Mr Jolly Nyame, to 14 years in prison without an option of fine.

The court convicted Mr Nyame of criminal breach of trust in a case of N1.64billion fraud preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Nyame, who was Taraba State governor between 1999 and 2007, was accused of criminally misappropriating the funds while he governed the state.

Delivering a judgement that lasted more than four hours on Wednesday, Justice Adebukola Banjoko found the former governor guilty in 27 out of 41 counts he was charged with.

Former Governor Jolly Nyame at court premises on Wednesday, May 30, 2018.

 

The judge blamed Nyame for financial recklessness and brazen display of executive power without following due process.

According to the judgement, the former governor was jailed two years for misappropriation of government funds, seven years for receiving gratification, and five years for obtaining valuable government properties without consideration.

However, the jail terms are to run concurrently.

 – No Case Submission –

In November 2016, the prosecution had closed its case against Mr Nyame after presenting 14 witnesses to testify against him in the court.

But the trial suffered a setback on the same day after the defence told the court that it was going to file a “no case submission”, arguing that there was no prima facie case established against the former governor.

Consequently, in January 2017, both the prosecution and the defence adopted their written addresses and gave oral arguments.

The defence relied on the fact that some critical elements were missing in the case and urged the court to “hold that the testimony of prosecution witnesses have been so damaged and can’t be relied on”.

But the prosecution swiftly countered the submission, stating that it had established a prima facie case against Nyame after calling 14 witnesses who testified to how they assisted him to divert the funds.

After listening to both parties, Justice Banjoko had fixed February 14, 2017, to decide whether the former governor had a case to answer or not.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, the judge found the former governor guilty of 27 out of 41 counts levelled against him and jailed him for 14 years without an option of fine.

Suntai, Nyame Reconcile Differences, Attend Church Service Together

Former governor of Taraba state, Reverend Jolly Nyame, today (Friday) visited recuperating Governor Danbaba Suntai at the Government House, Jalingo, before attending a church thanksgiving service held in honour of the ailing governor at the Life and Destiny Church, Jalingo.

Reverend Nyame urged citizens of the state to bury their differences and pray for the quick recovery of the governor insisting that the progress and development of the state should be the concern of every Taraba state citizen.

Governor Suntai, in his response, expressed gratitude to the former governor for finding a place in his heart to forgive and visit him in his moment of trial.

With this reconciliatory steps taken by the duo, Taraba people, particularly the political class should bury their hatchet and come together in moving the state towards greater heights.

Witness narrates how Nyame allegedly withdrew N282 million from state’s treasury

 The Abuja High Court today listened to the testimony of a key witness, an accountant, Mr Abdurrahman Mohammed of the rural electrification board, Jalingo, Taraba state in the prosecution of the former governor of the state, Reverend Jolly Nyame.

The witness told the presiding Judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko how 20 Zenith Bank PLC, cheques valued at over N282 million were issued with the money withdrawn and given to the former governor.

Former governor Jolly Nyame who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is facing a 41 count charge of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and gratification of funds totalling N1.3billion.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, the witness who served between 2003 and 2007 as the accountant of the Taraba state liaison office Abuja said anytime the former governor was in the city, the permanent secretary of the government house, Mr Japhet Wubon always instructed him to withdraw funds from the bank via a Zenith bank cheque for the governor.

This money the witness says was always collected in company of two police escorts and a driver who then took him to the former governor’s lodge at TY Danjuma street in Abuja where it was received by the former governor Nyame himself or his steward without a receipt or a signed voucher.

Mr Mohammed identified exhibits of the Zenith bank financial statements and copies of the cheques he signed to withdraw the funds.

The defence team however objected to the exhibits been tendered as evidence in court through the witness.

They argued that the witness was a staff of the Taraba state government and not an employee of Zenith bank who ordinarily ought to have the documents in its possession.

Justice Banjoko adjourned further proceedings till the 30th of April