THE Court of Appeal in Abuja on Friday commuted the sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment passed on a former Governor of Plateau, Joshua Dariye, to 10 years.
Dariye had approached the appellate court to set aside Justice Adebukola Banjoko’s judgment where he was convicted on 15 out of the 23-count charge of criminal breach of trust and other corruption allegations.
Delivery judgment, Justice Steven Adah held that the court had no justification to set aside the decision of the trial court.
Adah said the trial court arrived at its decision after a meticulous trial process, adding that there were some allegations raised by the prosecution witnesses that the appellant failed to count.
According to him, the evidence before the court has shown that the appellant grossly mismanaged the over N1billion Ecological Funds meant for the state.
He explained that the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses indicated that Dariye had cashed the money through his bank account in Abuja.
Adah also held that the appellant committed a graft offence by deploying the fund to private use.
Nevertheless, the judge held that while the conviction was right, the ex-governor should have been served a maximum jail term being a first offender.
“The panel did evaluate the arguments of the parties and was convinced that the trial went too far to sentence the appellant to 10 years.
“In the interest of justice, however, the jail term is varied and reduced to 10 years without further fines.
“For emphasis, the 14 years conviction of the appellant on the accusation of criminal breach of trust is reduced to 10.
“His conviction for diversion of N1. 62 billion ecological funds are reduced from two years to one year,’’ the judge held.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the sentences are to run concurrently.
NAN recalls that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) had in July 2007 brought the charged against Dariye.
The appellant had averred that the trial court has no jurisdiction to have entertained the matter as the alleged offences were committed in Plateau.
Dariye was governor of Plateau between May 1999 and May 2007 on the platform of the PDP.
The ex-governor is a current senator representing Plateau Central Senatorial District.
Speaking to newsmen after the session, Mr Festus Jombo, Counsel to Dariye said the decision would be contested at the Supreme Court.
On his part, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) expressed delight on the outcome of the appeal, adding that the prosecution provided verifiable pieces of evidence that nailed the convict.
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