A former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, may recover his N500m mansion in Asokoro, Federal Capital Territory, from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission following his pardon by the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
Dariye, who was convicted for stealing N1.16bn while he was governor between 1999 and 2007, was pardoned by Buhari on April 14, 2022 following the recommendation of the National Council of State.
The former governor’s conviction by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in 2018 was affirmed by both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
On the strength of the affirmation of the conviction by the Supreme Court, the EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr Oluwaleke Atolagbe, approached a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking the final forfeiture of the property based on the argument that it was purchased with proceeds of crime.
The property, located at 19 Frederick Chiluba Close, sits on over 2,000 square metres in upscale Asokoro and in the middle of several governors’ lodges.
A top source at the EFCC told Sunday PUNCH that the property could not be worth less than N500m.
An EFCC official, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “That property cannot be worth less than N500m. The truth is that now that Dariye has been pardoned, it means the crime never occurred in the eyes of the law. That means the property may not be recovered from him. At this point, we don’t even know what will happen to the forfeiture case.
“It will now depend on the Attorney-General of the Federation to determine how to enforce the pardon along with the instruments of the pardon.”
The EFCC had told Justice Inyang Ekwo in February that since the trial had been concluded and Dariye had been jailed for criminal breach of trust and dishonest conversion of over N1bn belonging to Plateau State, it was proper that the court order the final forfeiture of the convict’s known assets.
The application read in part, “The applicant (the EFCC) sought and obtained an interim forfeiture order of the respondent’s (Dariye’s) assets and properties, inclusive of the property at P No 1802 AO4, No. 19, Fredrick Chiluba Close, Asokoro, pending the determination of the charge against the respondent.
“The charge against the respondent (now convicted): FCT/CR/81/2007 between Federal Republic of Nigeria vs. Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye, was determined resulting in the respondent’s conviction.
“Both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the respondent. The apex court affirmed the conviction of the respondent on the charge of criminal breach of trust punishable under Section 315 of the Penal Code and also that the N1,161,162,300.00 belonging to the Plateau State Government had clearly been dishonestly converted by the respondent to his own use by the intricate dishonest contrivance.”
The commission noted that with the decision of the Supreme Court in Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye vs. FRN, appeal No: SC/1206C/2018, it was affirmed that Ebenezer Retnan Ventures, an unregistered company, was involved and used to commit the crime for which Dariye was convicted.
It said by the decision of the Supreme Court, it was affirmed that there was credible evidence that Dariye was masquerading in the name of Ebenezer Retnan Ventures, an unregistered company, to cause wrongful gain to himself.