N1.2bn Scam: Joshua Dariye Absence Angers Judge

Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Gudu, Abuja on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 warned a former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye that her court will no longer tolerate any frivolous application intended to delay trial.

Dariye is standing trial on charges of money laundering to the tune of N1.2bn (one million, two hundred million naira) preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

At the resumed hearing of the case today, counsel to the accused, J. S Pwul, SAN, told the court that his client is indisposed and could not make it to court.

"My Lord, we apologize for the absence of the accused person. Sometime in February, his 90-year-old father was kidnapped. In the process, the accused fell on a rock and broke his leg and he is yet to recover," Pwul said.

In the circumstance, the defence asked for adjournment.

In opposition, counsel to EFCC, O.A Atolagbe, who stood in for Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, urged the court to discountenance the defence's application saying, "it has become the habit of the accused to always develop some rare illness which acts up before the date set for his trial".

Atolagbe further argued that, "we will like to put it on record that the accused has never appeared before this honourable court since 2012 and this was one of the attitude condemned by the Supreme Court as stated in the second to the last paragraph of page 21 of the judgement delivered on February 27, 2015. A month after it is the same story".

Miffed by the conduct of the accused, Justice Banjoko said she would not hesitate to open a day-to-day trial on the accused to ensure speedy determination of the case.

Since his arraignment on a 23 count charge on July 13, 2007 at the Federal High Court, Abuja, Dariye has been employing all means known to law to frustrate his trial.

Following his "plea of not guilty" to the charges preferred against him, the trial court (Federal High Court, Abuja) had set aside November 13, 2007 for the prosecution to open its case.

On the date fixed for trial to commence, the ex-Plateau governor brought a motion before the court praying for an order to quash the 23-count charge preferred against him on diverse grounds, including lack of locus standi to prosecute him and jurisdiction to hear and determine the case.

Dariye's application was dismissed by the court on December 10, 2007. He proceeded on appeal, which also suffered the same fate on June 17, 2010.

Not satisfied, the former governor proceeded to the Supreme Court on July 13, 2010.

The apex court in its judgement delivered on February 27, 2015 found the appeal to be lacking in merit and consequently dismissed it and ordered the court to commence expeditious trial of the former governor.

Justice Banjoko has adjourned the case to July 1, 2015.

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