THE Federal Government, on Monday, closed its case in the trial of former Plateau State governor, Joshua Dariye, on charges of alleged diversion of about N1.162 billion Ecological Fund meant for Plateau State in 2004.
Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), prosecuting the former governor on behalf of the Federal Government, told the trial judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko, of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, sitting in Gudu, Abuja, that the prosecution has closed its case after calling the tenth witness in the matter.
The witness, Mohammed Kawu Mohammed, an operative of the EFCC, told the court that the commission seized one of Dariye’s property at Asokoro District of Abuja.
Mohammed, who is attached to the Assets Forfeiture and Recovery Section of the EFCC, revealed that his team took over the ownership of the property in 2012 following an interim forfeiture order from a High Court.
He further said the EFCC leased out the property and raked in the sum of N67 million as rent.
While under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Garba Pwul, Mohammed said he was not part of the investigative team that probed the former governor in 2007, saying that: “I did not participate in the investigation of Dariye. Therefore, I have no idea of how the charges came up.”
Dariye was governor of Plateau State between 1999 and 2007, his tenure was interrupted by an impeachment in November, 2006, which lasted for months and was reinstated by the Supreme Court in April, 2007.
The former governor, who is being prosecuted by the anti-graft agency, is now the Senator representing Plateau Central in the National Assembly.
The ninth prosecution witness who is a retired detective with the Metropolitan Police in London, Mr Peter Clerk, at the last adjourned date told the court how the former governor was arrested in September 2004.
He gave details of Dariye’s alleged extravagant spending, including the purchase of a pen for £7,000 in London, before he (Dariye) was arrested.
“From the examination of Mr. Dariye’s account, he travelled all over the world. From his passport, we saw stamps of several countries. We found seven pairs of shoes which cost £700 per pair. He paid £7,000 for a pen. He purchased a lot of things in high luxurious stores,” the witness had told the court.
Led in evidence by the lead prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, Clerk said he was also involved in the investigation of the former governor of Bayelsa State, the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, for money laundering in London before he (Alamieyeseigha) jumped bail.
The witness, who indicated that he started investigating Dariye in January 2004, said the former governor of Plateau State was arrested in his hotel room on September 28, 2004, while on a visit to London.
He said: “On September 28, 2004, we were informed that Joshua Dariye was in London in a hotel. I went there with two other officers who also identified themselves as police officers.
“I informed him (Dariye) that we were investigating his accounts and we arrested and informed him under caution that we believed that the money was stolen and proceeds of money laundering. He said nothing.”
He stated that on September 28, 2004, when Dariye was arrested, £43,000 was found in the former governor’s hotel room, adding that, on the same day, £50,000, out of which £40,000 belonged to Dariye, was found with a lady, Christabel Bentu, who was said to have claimed to be a Personal Assistant to the former governor, in another room in the same hotel.
Clerk said: “In September 2004, £43,000 in cash was found in Dariye’s room when it was searched. There were various denominations and currencies including Scottish notes, dollars, euros.
“The cash seized was packed into a container, for which he signed. It was photographed. I have copies of the photograph. Dariye and Christopher Bentu were taken to the police.”
He said his colleague searched a property belonging to Dariye and found £11, 995.
Clerk said Dariye was later released on bail and was expected to return to London in December 2004, but never did.
The witness said a valid arrest warrant was, till date, still pending against the former governor after jumping bail to Nigeria.
The trial Judge, Justice Banjoko adjourned trial till June 10, 2016.