HEDA Resource Centre, a justice-based movement, has lauded all players in the judicial system who contributed to the conviction of Joshua Dariye, a serving senator and former Governor of Plateau State, and Jolly Nyame, a former Governor of Taraba state.
The non-profit organization said this in a statement sent to SaharaReporters on Sunday.
“This is a great day for the judicial system in Nigeria; and we laud the boldness of the judge, and the tenacity of the EFCC to pursue this case to the expected end, regardless of all the distractions and time-wasting tactics employed by the defendant.
“For too long, the Nigerian Judiciary has faced serious criticisms from all members of the society due to the recent allegations of corruption raised against the judges.”
On Tuesday, a Federal High Court in Abuja had sentenced Dariye to 14 years in prison after finding him guilty of criminal breach of trust and criminal appropriation of the state’s funds running to over N2bn.
Justice Adebukola Banjoko, who sat on the case, convicted the ex-governor on 15 out the 23 counts charges preferred against him in July 2007 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“I can’t imagine such a brazen act. Is it the transfer of as much as about half a billion Naira from the state’s Ecological Fund into a personal venture account? Everybody is a victim here,” the judge said while delivering judgement in Dariye’s case," she had said.
Justice Banjoko had earlier sentenced Nyame to 14 years imprisonment on similar charges.
HEDA applauded the bravery of Justice Banjoko but stated that more of such judgements are needed to send a clear message to those who have looted, or are in the process of looting the country, and to retain the people’s confidence in the judicial system.
The organisation also asked for the implementation of some action points in furtherance of the judgments.
It said: “On this note, we send out a clarion call to other members of the judiciary to step up to the gauntlet thrown by Justice Adebukola Banjoko; we ask for the implementation of these action points:
“The judiciary shall decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.
“The provision of the 2015 Administration of Criminal Justice Act empowers the judge not to grant adjournments for more than 14 days: it insists that trial must be from day-to-day and not be susceptible to judges and lawyers who indulge in unduly prolonging trials. We ask that members of the justice system who indulge in this reprehensible act should be visited by the provisions of the law.
“Justice Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, has ordered all the Heads of Courts to designate at least one court in their various jurisdictions as Special Courts, solely for the purpose of hearing and speedy determination of corruption and financial crime cases; this is an expedient warning that it would no longer be business as usual for corrupt elements of the society and the judiciary.
“The supreme court justices have also noted the unfortunate use of stay of proceedings principle to delay cases and have condemned this act in several cases. For example, Justice Nweze JSC, in his judgment on this sameJ oshua Dariye case, held to the effect that the acts of adopting various frivolous delay tactics by politically exposed citizens is deplorable and lawyers should not engage in this.”