Posted by By Bolade Omonijo on
PLATEAU State is another to watch and pay close attention following what has been achieved IN Bayelsa by the federal forces. It would be recalled that, before Alamieyeseigha, there was Dariye.
PLATEAU State is another to watch and pay close attention following what has been achieved IN Bayelsa by the federal forces. It would be recalled that, before Alamieyeseigha, there was Dariye. Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau State was the first to be arrested and granted bail by the British Metropolitan Police. While Alamieyeseigha was arrested in September 2005 at the Heathrow Airport mainly on charges of Money Laundering, Dariye was picked up at marriot Hotel London on similar charges on September 2, 2004, four months after a state of emergency was declared in his state.
Again, to set the stage for a more bizzare escape by the Bayelsa State governor, dariye who was given very liberal bail terms by the London police jumped bail and made good his escape from the long arms of the law. However, unlike Alamieyeseigha, who was charged and arraigned before the court before he escaped, no formal charges had been preferred against Dariye before he left London.
The worries Dariye had to face were not just about London, he had fallen foul of the standards set by President Olusegun Obasanjo. If the President had his way, dariye would not have been restored to power after the expiration of the six-month State of Emergency slammed on his state, the second in the history of independent Nigeria.
Since then, the Economic and Financial criomes Commission, EFCC had been on the trail of the governor who has been charged with diverse crimes against the country. But, he has so far been lucky to have section 308 of the 1999 Constitution as his saviour.
The EFCC accused the governor of defrauding the state in a single transaction to the tune of N1,6 billion in collusion with officials of All States Trust Bank. Attempts by the EFCC to find a way round the immunity impediment at the Federal High Court, Kaduna failed. The commission would however not accept defeat. It has since filed another case before an Abuja High Court.
In another matter, the governor has been dragged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for failing to disclose his assets according to Sections 11 (1) ans (2) of the Code of Conduct for public officials as in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution.
According to the Federal Ministry of Justice prosecuting the case, the governor can only be regarded as deserving of protection under Section 308 of the Constitution if he had been validly sworn into office.
According to the former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Akin Olujinmi, Section 185 (1) of the Constitution did not envusage that anyone who falsely declared his assets could not have been validly sworn into office. The section declares: "A person elected to the office of the governor of a state shall not begin to perform the functions of that office until he has declared his assets and liabilities as prescribed in this Constitution..."
The former Chief Law Officer of the Federation therefore averred that the governor had illegally occupied the office since he was sworn in as governor in 2003.
But dariye's Chief Counsel, Professor ben Nwabueze contended before the various courts and the Tribunal that the President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors enjoy absolute immunity under section 308. He claimed further that, even outside the shores of Nigeria, a Nigerian governor, as a mini-sovereign ought to enjoy immunity under International Law in accordance with the Viennaa Convention. The case is still pending.
Were Dariye's headaches restricted to the legal, it would have been more tolerable. He also has political hurdles to scale. Apparently embarrassed by the governor's conduct and his refusal to stay off the gubernatorial seat, the Peoples Democratic Party moved against him by setting up the Donald Duke committee to investigate his alleged crimes and misdemeanours. He was consequently suspended by the party and has since been treated as an orphan. He is locked in a local battle for supremacy with the Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu. Mantu enjoys protection, support and cover from the national leadership of the party. On the other hand, dariye is supported by the likes of widely respected former national chairman of the party, Chief Solomon Lar, Alhaji Yahya Kwande, among others. But, following the defection of Lar and his group to the Movement for the Defence of Democracy, MDD, it is obvious that Dariye is an orphan in the PDP.
Following the renewed zeal with which the EFCC and the Code of Conduct Tribunal have renewed efforts to bring the governor to justice, it is a question of time before he is given the Alamieyeseigha.
One saving grace so far has been the state Hopuse of Assembly. But, the situation appears to have changed somewhat with the indication by the state legislature that it would be investigating the allegations against the governor.
It would be recalled that, in a letter to the Speaker of the House last year, Chief Olujinmi had listed crimes allegedly committed by the governor as including: Money laundering under Section 14 (1) of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act; illegal transaction in foreign exchange contrary to section 29 of the Foreign Exchange (Monitiring, et cetera) Act 1995; false declaration contrary to section 164 of the Penal Code and false declaration of assets contrary to Section 25 (1) of the Corrupt Practices et cetera Act.
Dariye was also accused of false declaration of assets contrary to Section 11 (1) and (2) of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers as in 5th Schedule of the 1999 Constitution. He was charged with maintaining foreign bank accounts contrary to Section 3 of the Code of Conduct for public Officers.
Details of the assets allegedly belonging to the governor which were not declared include Yelwa Club, Bukuru, near Jos; a building near the Fedearl Housing Authority Staff Quarters, maitama, Abuja; an undeveloped expanse of land at Aminu Kano Crescent, opposite Maitama District Hospital, Abuja and a building at Wuse !!, off Aminu kano Crescent, Abuja.
Reacting to the woes he faced, the Plateau State governor put his hand on the pie when he said on resumption of office last year that, "I have resigned myself to fate, to God. He is the omnipotent God who will decide my fate and that is why I will continue to be loyal to the President, no matter and whatever happens."
In saying that, the embattled governor was acknowledging the obvious. Under the Constitution, the President is so powerful that only God could check him. The sociological environment of Nigeria where all depend on the state for survival has not helped matters. Realising this, the governor said: "I am very loyal to Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He is my father. baba is my role model. My relationship with him is very symbolic and I see it as a father and son relationship. Even where somthing is wrong or goes wrong, as a father and son relationship, we have a way of resolving it...I am one of the fanatical believers and supporters in all his political and economic reforms which I believe are for the best of the country."
It is however obvious to every political analyst that such profession of support cannot save the neck of Governor Joshua dariye. The neck is already on the political guillotine. With the more embarrassing Alamieyeseigha issue already favourably resolved in favour of the federal government, all resources, tactics and attention of state officials shall be devoted to getting the governor who has already been presented as obstruction the course of justice, impeding the intelligence community from performing its task and abducting operatives of the SSS. Soon after Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the bell is expected to toll for Dariye.
NO one can yet interpret the script as it concerns Govenor Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, One thing that is known is that the Reverend gentleman is a loyalist of Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the EFCC is believed to have developed interest in his case. His Accountant General, commissioners and members of the House of Assembly have been guests of the anti-corruption agency. When the Alamieyeseigha saga first broke out, the governor's aides were the first to be routinely invited to provide explanations on state financial transactions.
In one of its most recent statements, the EFCC had served notice that Taraba would provide a fertile ground for its dreaded searchlight soon.
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