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.
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.
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.
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.