Senator Joshua Dariye, a former Plateau State Governor, has asked the Supreme Court to overturn his conviction or reduce the 10-year prison sentence handed down to him by the Court of Appeal.
His counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), made the plea at Dariye’s appeal hearing on Thursday.
After accepting his written argument, Agabi prayed that the court would approve the appeal of his client and set aside the conviction and sentence of Dariye.
Dariye’s conviction was speculative, the former Attorney General of the Minister of Justice (AGF) claimed, and urged the court to show mercy on him.
Agabi added: “Here is a man who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.” For certain persons, 10 years is more than a lifetime. You need to show him mercy.’
However, he added that if the court were to disallow the appeal and uphold the Court of Appeal’s ruling, the sentence should be significantly reduced.
Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the respondent’s counsel, countered and advised the court to deny the appeal and uphold the two lower courts’ similar rulings.
Jacobs contended that in the eyes of the law, a public official was not better than the average man.
“He added: “With respect to the sentence passed, it was shortened to 10 years. The fact that he the appellant) is a civil servant does not mean that he should go free.
After entertaining arguments from lawyers to parties, a five-man panel of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Mary Odili, adjourned until March 21 next year for a decision.
Via his appeal, Dariye is praying to the Supreme Court to reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, of 16 November 20218, which convicted him and sentenced him to 10 years for diverting public funds valued at N1,162 billion when he was governor.
In its ruling, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, headed by Justice Stephen Adah, upheld an earlier judgment delivered on June 2018 by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
Dariye was convicted by the trial court on 15 counts relating to the offenses of criminal breach of confidence and criminal misappropriation found in the 23-count indictment brought against him by the Commission on Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC).
The Court of Appeal observed in upholding Dariye’s conviction that the prosecution, headed by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), effectively proved its claim against the former governor of criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation.
Nevertheless, the Appeal Court faulted the trial court on counts 12 and 23 for convicting Dariye, which it claimed the prosecution could not prove.
It also accused the trial court of imposing the maximum penalties for both criminal breach of confidence and criminal misappropriation offenses.
The Court of Appeal continued to reduce the sentence of 14 years for criminal violation of confidence to 10 years and to reduce the sentence of two years for criminal misappropriation to one year.