The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in 2007, preferred money laundering and charges bordering on the diversion of the Ecological funds against Mr. Joshua Dariye, a former Governor of Plateau State, currently representing Plateau Central Senatorial Constituency in the National Assembly. Nine years after preferring the charges of alleged diversion of the Plateau State’s N1.126bn Ecological funds against the former Governor, the EFCC finally opened its case before a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Gudu, Abuja.
Investigation by the EFCC operatives revealed that the former governor had, in 2001, applied for the ecological funds in the name of Plateau state but collected the money in person and lodged it with the Abuja branch of the All States Trust Bank Plc (now Defunct). It was reported that the bank manager, allegedly acting on Dariye’s instructions paid N100m in the name of PDP South-West. The money was later traced to a company, Marine Float Nigeria Limited allegedly owned by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Reacting to the news, Comrade Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) said it is a national shame that the decision to resurrect and investigate, Joshua Dariye was informed by a request by the London Metropolitan Police. He said, “9 years to start trial denote that the Nigerian Judicial system is laughable. If an accused could legally manipulate the system for 9 years before the trial even begins, it means there is no deterrent to corruption. This is somebody who singlehandedly collected N1.126 billion naira on behalf of the state and diverted it to his private account and then directed the bank manager on how to distribute it. That is why all of them are running to court to seek protection and yet we are talking about rule of law.”
A similar case is that a former Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Peter Odili, who also got a perpetual injunction which forever froze his case till now. The EFCC began moves to swoop on Rivers state officials in late 2006 when it issued a report of investigation into the state’s finances in which it said over N100 billion was diverted during Odili’s two terms. The report contained allegations of large-scale fraud, conspiracy, conversion of public funds, foreign exchange malpractice, money laundering, stealing and abuse of oath of office against the former governor. To stave off impeding prosecution of officials, the then Rivers state Attorney General went to court and got a perpetual injunction in March 2007 restraining the EFCC from investigating the state government.
“A year later, months after he had left office in May 2007, Odili himself went to court and asked to be made to benefit from the injunction and the court granted his prayers, making him perpetually immune from arrest, investigation or prosecution. The perpetual injunction awarded to Peter Odili effectively made him a ‘legal fugitive’. This is another case of unconstitutional ‘immunity’ we are waiting for to be quashed. I believe many evidences would by now be nowhere and some witnesses either gone or died. Serious fight against corruption must start with the judiciary especially our judges.” Mr. Adeniran stated.
The nation’s quest to fight corruption is the best way forward, but it is very important that our judicial system adhere to high standard of judicial integrity and transparent procedures. Interlocutory injunctions remain is a serious bane in our judicial system. We need strong institutions like judiciary and others if Nigeria really wants to rid the country of corruption and corrupt people.
We must commend the judgment of the Supreme Court to set aside the interlocutory injunction that has stalled the case for so long. The judgment made represents the spirit of judicial activism that Nigerians want to continue to see.
CACOL urges President Muhammadu Buhari not to stop his serious commitment, zeal and determination in the war against corruption and continue to fully support the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) morally, financially and technically to prosecute accused former governors and other indicted public officials including serving ministers in his cabinet who have been trailed by various allegations of corruptions. More so, plea bargaining should not even be considered for all corruption criminals as their actions had sent many innocent souls to untimely grave.
The new acting EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu and his team should continue to be on their toes for a renewed and rejuvenated cause in the annals of anti-graft crusade, as this will serve as deterrent to others and put a check on the wanton impunity at which the corrupt elements in our society loot our collective patrimony and commonwealth.
Media Officer, CACOL