Appeal Court brings down Nyame, Dariye’s jail terms

The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday, reduced the 14-year jail term, earlier given to the former Taraba State Governor, Jolly Nyame by a High Court in Abuja to 12 years.

The also has ordered that Nyame should pay a fine of N495 million for alleged misappropriation of funds while he was governor of Taraba State from 1999 to 2007.

The appeal court, however, said the law compels the court to add a fine for each of the various convictions.

During an initial judgement of the lower court in April, the court jailed Mr Nyame 14 years for various crimes whose penalties were to run concurrently.

But the appellate court in a fresh ruling on Friday said Mr Nyame ought to have been given a capital punishment, but for the constitutional constraint on the court to stick to the provisions of the law, Premium Times reports.

In May, when Justice Adebukola Banjoko first sentenced Mr Nyame to jail, she summarised how she came about the judgement.

In her address, the judge identified various confessions of fraudulent transactions and said the evidences against the defendant were overwhelming. According to the judge, even the defence witnesses alluded to the crimes contained in the charge against the defendant. She likened the conduct of the prescribed offences to the story of Alibaba and the forty thieves.

Citing a memo which formed the basis of the fraudulent transactions, Mrs. Banjoko questioned the motive behind Mr Nyame’s ‘ratification’ of the said memo, despite the former governor’s claim that he knew nothing about the fraudulent transaction.

“From the evidence alluded in court, transactions by the treasury of the Taraba State government begin with a memo. Now a memo has a root course that is traceable to a decision,” said the judge who added that where the said memo becomes a proven source of questionable transactions, it would only be natural to trace the said memo to its source.

The judge also questioned the failure of Mr Nyame to investigate the illicit flow of funds under his watch adding that Mr Nyame confirmed in court that he never conducted any such investigation.

Similarly, 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 it 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, 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.

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 evidences that nailed the convict.

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