The trial of a former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, resumed on Tuesday with a statement he made in 2007 forming the focus of the day’s proceedings.
The former governor is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 23-count charge bordering on money laundering and diversion of funds.
His trial before Justice Adebukola Banjoko of a Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court, Gudu, Abuja, commenced last Tuesday with the EFCC presenting exhibits, including the statement, as part of documents to prosecute Dariye for allegedly diverting N1.162 billion Ecological Fund meant for the state, to private companies and individuals.
In the statement, Mr. Dariye had acknowledged giving instruction to All States Trust Bank, (now defunct), on the disbursement of the said N1.162 billion fund, which had been released by the Office of the Ecological Fund and credited to the bank.
A document from the bank confirming the disbursement of the fund as instructed by Mr. Dariye was also presented in court.
In the document, the then state governor instructed that N250 million be paid to Pinnacle Communications Limited, PCL; N80 million to Union Savings & Loans; N550 million to the Plateau State government; N100 million to People’s Democratic Party, PDP, South-west; and N176,862,900 to Ebenezer Retnan Ventures, ERV.
Prosecution witness, Musa Sunday, who was cross-examined by G. S. Pwul, counsel to Mr. Dariye, told the court that the documents, including Mr. Dariye’s statement, were obtained in the course of investigations into the alleged diversion of the N1.162 billion Fund.
According to him, though during investigation the owner of PCL – a contractor with the state government confirmed the receipt for work done for the state, ERV was a company owned by the former governor, and actually got paid N160 million (instead of N176,862,900 as earlier instructed by Dariye) for no services rendered to the state government.
He told the court that during interrogation of Mr. Dariye, he admitted that the balance of about N16 million was shared between the then Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Nasir Mantu, who got N10 million, and the remaining N6 million given to the PDP in the state.
He said, “We invited the owner of Pinnacle Communications Limited who confirmed that he was a contractor for the Plateau State government.
“The N80 million credited to Union Savings was traced to Kingsley Nkomah the Permanent Secretary in the Ecological Fund office, which investigations later showed was the share of Nkomah to facilitate the release of the Fund.
“During interrogation, the defendant volunteered his statement and made it clear that the N100 million paid PDP South-west was different from the N100 million we traced to Marine Float Nigeria Limited”.
Mr. Sunday told the court that the N80 million was, however, recovered from Mr. Nkomah.
Justice Banjoko, thereafter adjourned till February 3, 2016 for continuation of trial.