UPDATE: Supreme Court affirms Dariye’s conviction on breach of public trust, quashes

March 12, 2021
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The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal that convicted former Plateau sState governor, Senator Joshua Dariye, for criminal breach of trust brought against him by the Federal Government.

The apex court also upheld the 10-year jail term imposed on him by the Court of Appeal along with the conviction but however quashed the criminal misappropriation of funds against the former governor which earned the him one year jail term at the Court of Appeal.

Delivering judgment in an appeal filed by the former governor, Justice Hellen Ogunwumiju held that the Court of Appeal and a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory were right in their findings in the criminal breach of trust filed against the former governor under Section 315 of the Penal Code.

Justice Ogunwumiju in the unanimous judgment prepared by Justice Ejembi Eko which she read however disagreed with the two lower courts in their findings on the misappropriation of funds and subsequently quashed it.

The misappropriation of funds brought against Dariye under Section 309 of the Penal Code carries a maximum of two years imprisonment.

Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court of the FCT had in 2018 sentenced Senator Dariye to 14 years imprisonment in the criminal breach of trust, but was reduced to 10 years by the Court of Appeal.

The two-year imprisonment imposed on the former governor in the charges of miss- appropriation of funds was also redused to one year by the appellate court

A five-member panel of Justices of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, had, after hearing Dariye’s appeal on December 17, 2020, fixed judgment for March 12, 2021.

Dariye had, in his appeal, prayed the apex court to upturn the November 16, 2018 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which convicted him and sentenced him to ten years for diverting public funds estimated at N1.162 billion while he was the Governor of Plateau state.

A three-member panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Stephen Adah, in its decision, upheld an earlier judgment by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), delivered on June 12, 2018.

The trial court convicted Dariye on 15 counts relating to the offences of criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation, contained in the 23-count charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In upholding Dariye’s conviction, the Court of Appeal noted that the prosecution, led by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) effectively proved its allegation of criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation against the ex-governor.

The Appeal Court however faulted the trial court for convicting Dariye on counts 12 and 23, which it said the prosecution did not prove.

It also faulted the trial court for imposing the maximum sentences on both offences of criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation.

The Appeal Court proceeded to reduce the 14 years sentence for the offence of criminal breach of trust to 10 years, and reduced the two years sentence for criminal misappropriation to one year.

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