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Appeal court reviews Nyame’s, Dariye’s jail terms

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Former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame

The Court of Appeal, Abuja, yesterday reviewed the prison terms handed over to former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame and his Plateau counterpart, Joshua Dariye.

The court unanimously reduced Dariye’s jail term from 14 to 10 years while that of Nyame was reviewed downwards from 14 to 12 years.  

Dariye was on June 12 jailed for 14 years by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, for embezzling N1.2 billion Ecological funds received from the Presidency on behalf of his state.  

Also, the same Justice Banjoko had sentenced Nyame to 14 years imprisonment on May 30.  

However, delivering judgment in an appeal filed by Dariye, Justice Stephen Adah in a lead judgment, stated that the initial 14 years jail term was “excessive and therefore cannot be sustained” because the defendant was found to be a first offender.”  

Justice Adah noted that while the issue of sentencing was discretionary, such discretion must be governed by law and must not be fanciful, arbitrary or excessive.  

The appellate court held that in line with section 416 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, the trial court erred in law when it sentenced Dariye to 14 years imprisonment under count 12, without conviction.  

Consequently, the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence and set it aside.  

In addition, Justice Adah stated that there was no basis for the conviction of Dariye on count 23, because the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant diverted over N1billion ecological fund meant for Plateau State into buying a house in London.  

Therefore, the court held that the conviction of Dariye based on count 23 was “wrong and therefore liable to be quashed.”  

However, Justice Adah upheld the judgment of the trial court, which had convicted Dariye on counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 17, 21 and 22.  

The counts upon which Dariye was sentenced to a maximum term of 14 years were however reduced and the jail term reduced to 10 years.   

Delivering judgment in an appeal filed by Nyame, the appellate court reduced the defendant’s jail term to 12 years, but ordered him to pay a fine of N495million for criminally embezzling funds meant for the state while in office.  

Justice Agim in a lead judgment stated that the reduction in the jail term was because the defendant is a first- time offender on record, in line with section 416(2)(d) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.  

However, considering section 315 of the Criminal Code Act, the court in a unanimous decision held that the trial court failed to impose a fine as stipulated by law in view of the gravity of the offence levelled against Nyame to serve as a deterrent.  

Justice Agim berated Nyame for abusing his office as governor by converting public funds into private use, stressing that Nyame exhibited a callous criminal mind and that the impact of his criminal act was devastating to the entire people of Taraba State.

According to Agim, “public office corruption” is in the class of crime against humanity and terrorism and that offenders must face the full wrath of the law.

He insisted that the trial court was right to have convicted the former governor, adding that “security vote is a public fund and its usage must be properly accounted for.”

Consequently, having reduced the sentence from 14 to 12 years, the appellate court ordered Nyame to pay N495 million as a fine. On counts 1, 2 and 6, the Court of Appeal fined Nyame N100 million each; on counts 8, he was ordered to pay N50 million; on counts 10, 12, and 14, the defendant was asked to pay N20 million each and on counts 16, 18, 20, 29, 30, 31 and 32, he was directed to pay N10 million each, while count 36 attracted a fine of N5 million.


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