Another political secrete becomes unvailed as Justice Adebukola Banjoko sentenced Joshua Dariye, a serving member of the Nigeria Senate and former governor of Plateau state to 14 years imprisonment for embezzling N1.162 billion ecological funds belonging to his state. Just two weeks earlier, Banjoko had read a similar judgement in a related matter. At the end of that earlier case, a former Taraba governor, Jolly Nyame, was jailed 14 years for misappropriating state funds. On the day he was convicted, Dariye went to the court premises in his official vehicle as a senator but he left in a prison vehicle to Kuje prison, where he would spend the next 14 years.
Like Senator Dariye, there are many other serving members of the Senate who are either being prosecuted by the EFCC or are under investigation, and whose fates seem to be hanging in the balance. Here are a few:
1. Peter Nwoboshi
Senator Nwoboshi, representing Delta-North senatorial district, is facing a two-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Nwoboshi has already spent two days in prison but is currently out on bail after Mohammed Idris, the trial judge, released him on self-recognisance. According to ICIR, the criminal trial of Nwaoboshi, began Wednesday, June 20, at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court with the prosecution presenting two witnesses. The EFCC reportedly said Nwoboshi, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, had awarded contracts worth over N6 billion to 15 companies belonging to him and his cronies in 2016. The contracts for the procurement of hundreds of thousands plastic chairs and tables for schools in the nine oil producing states in Nigeria. He was arrested in April this year after evading arrest several times, and the trial is ongoing.
2. Danjuma Goje
Senator Danjuma Goje, former governor of Gombe state and current senator representing Gombe Central senatorial district, is undergoing trial at the Federal High Court, Gombe, for allegedly defrauding the state to the tune of N5 billion. Goje, who is doing a second-term in the Senate, is also the chairman of the Northeast caucus of the Senate, as well as chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. According to ICIR, Senator Goje was accused of obtaining a loan of N5 billion from a new generation bank with a forged document, purporting that the Gombe State House of Assembly approved the loan. EFCC reportedly alleged that Goje forged the signature of Shehu Atiku, Clerk of the Gombe State House of Assembly, to facilitate the loan which he claimed was for infrastructural projects, but which was diverted and laundered.
3. Abdulaziz Nyako
Senator Abdulaziz Nyako, representing Adamawa Central, is the son of Murtala Nyako, former governor of Adamawa state. Both men are currently facing a 37-count corruption charge before the Federal High Court, Abuja. The EFCC reportedly accused both Nyakos, alongside two others, of siphoning over N15 billion from the Adamawa state treasury, using five proxy companies. Though the younger Nyako seemed to have won the first round of battle against the EFCC, having secured a court ruling ordering the anti-graft agency to pay him N12.5 million in damages for illegal detention, the bigger case continues in court, albeit after some delay following the death of the trial judge, Justice Evoh Chukwu, ICIR stated. A new judge, Okon Abang, has been assigned to continue with the trial. READ ALSO: High court discharges and acquits ex-governor Sule Lamido in Dutse
4. Bassey Akpan
Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, representing Akwa Ibom Northeast, was arrested by the EFCC for allegedly receiving vehicles worth over N300 million from Jide Omokore, an oil dealer who is also facing corruption charges. Also, the EFCC reportedly wanted Akpan to account for his conducts when he served as Akwa Ibom state Commissioner for Finance during the governorship of Godswill Akpabio. Akpan denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the vehicles from Omokore were personal gifts and also a show of support for his governorship ambition. He has since been released on bail. Meanwhile, the federal government has also filed new criminal charges against Senator Akpan at the Federal High Court, Abuja over his failure to declare his assets. The federal government (complainant) in charge no:FHC/ABJ/CR/88/2018 slammed a two-count charge of “criminal breach of trust, diversion of public funds, conspiracy and abuse of office contrary to section 3(3)(1)(a) of the Recovery of public property (Special privision) Act 2004.” In its particulars of offence to count one, the federal government alleged that Akpan committed the offence of false assets declaration under Section 15 of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap C15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
5. Stella Oduah
The former minister of aviation is currently under investigation by the EFCC over her alleged involvement in a N9.4 billion contract for the supply of security equipment to 22 airports across the nation. She is also reportedly being questioned for allegedly failing to carry out specific projects across many airports in the country, despite the allocation of funds for these projects. A private company, Psybernetix Limited, had reportedly petitioned the EFCC, alleging that Oduah had diverted contracts initially awarded to it, to some other companies that had zero competence. “She (Oduah) also wanted us to issue post-dated cheques totalling several billions of Naira in favour of this her preferred company (I-Sec Ltd, as well as Zuren Ltd), front companies belonging to her friend and business partner, Walter Wagbotsama,” Psybernetix alleged. “This company had zero security, program management, project management, or global project execution experience, so, on what basis would a company of our stature and reputation engage them as our technical partners?” The case is still under investigation, and it is only a question of when, not if, Oduah would be prosecuted.
6. David Mark
The EFCC is also reportedly probing the allegation of fraud worth N5.4 billion, allegedly carried out by David Mark, during his tenure as Senate President from 2007 to 2015, as well as for funds he allegedly received from Sambo Dasuki, the embattled former national security adviser. So far, no charges have been filed, and Mark has insisted that he is innocent of the charges against him, describing the EFCC’s investigation as “chasing shadows”.
7. Godswill Akpabio
The former Akwa Ibom state governor who is the current Senate minority leader was first arrested by the EFCC in October 2015, following a petition by one Leo Ekpenyong, who alleged that Akpabio looted the state’s treasury during his time as governor. Again, in September 2017, the EFCC began another round of investigation into allegations that Akpabio, as the state governor, gifted a commercial bank the sum of N1.4 billion, for reasons that were best known to him. However, investigations into Akpabio’s alleged fraudulent activities during his time as governor have progressed sluggishly. The Akwa Ibom government, according to the ICIR, filed a suit in court seeking for an injunction to bar the EFCC from investigating its affairs.
8. Ike Ekweremadu
The deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu is facing fraud allegations levelled against him by the federal government. The Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, headed by Okoi Obono-Obla, has reportedly filed a suit in court seeking the forfeiture of 22 luxury apartments, said to belong to Ekweremadu, but which he did not include in his assets declaration form. Nine of the targeted properties are said to be in Abuja, two in London, UK, eight in Dubai, UAE and three in Florida, US. Ekweremadu denied any wrongdoing and the case is still before the Federal High Court, Abuja.