From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Former Plateau State Governor, Senator Joshua Dariye has approached the Supreme Court to reverse his conviction or reduce the 10-year jail term passed against him by the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal.
Dariye’s plea was made by a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Kanu Agabi (SAN) who is his counsel in his appeal.
In adopting in writing submissions, Agabi urged the apex court to set aside the conviction and sentence of his client.
In addition, Agabi argued that the conviction of his client was speculative and urged the court to show mercy on him.
Agabi added: “Here is a man sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. 10 years is more than a lifetime for some people. You should show him mercy.”
He however added that, should the court be minded to disallow the appeal and affirm the decision of the Court of Appeal, it should reduce the sentence substantially.
However, counsel to the respondent, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) urged the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the concurrent findings of the two lower courts.
Jacobs argued that a public servant was not better than the common man in the eyes of the law.
He added: “As for the sentence passed, it has been reduced to 10 years. That he (the appellant) is a public servant does not mean he should go free.”
A five-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Mary Odili, after entertaining arguments from lawyers to parties, adjourned till March 21 next year for ruling.
Dariye is, by his appeal, praying the Supreme Court to upturn the November 16, 20218 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which convicted him and sentenced him to 10 years for diverting public funds estimated at N1.162billion while he was the governor.
A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Stephen Adah, in its decision, upheld an earlier judgement 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 on which he was tried 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.