Anti-Graft war: S’Court laments suspects’ delay tactics

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The Supreme Court has expressed concern over the use of interlocutory appeals by politicians to delay

their trials for alleged corrupt practices.

About five former governors and others, arraigned in various courts for alleged corrupt practices,

involving billions of Naira, adopted the legal delay tactic so that their criminal trials would not progress.

The ugly trend came to a head on Friday, as the apex court voiced its concern, saying that the appeal

filed by the former Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye did not only lack merit but  was “a sad

commentary of the anti-graft war.”

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, who stated this in the lead judgement, which was, unanimously, supported by

the remaining four justices of the five-man panel, said the trend was “worrisome.”

The apex court dismissed Dariye’s appeal as lacking in merit and remitted his case file to the trial judge,

Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court, Federal Capital Territory, for speedy trial.

Like other high profile politicians facing criminal trial, Dariye had adopted appeals to prevent his trial.

Justices Ngwuta (who read the lead judgment) and Chima Nweze, a co-panelist stoutly condemned it.

While Ngwuta described the tactic as a sad commentary of the country’s anti-graft war, Nweze said the

action of some members of the elite class, who saw themselves as being above the law, was worrisome.

According to Nweze, “about eight years ago, to be precise, November 13, 2007, the accused applied that

the charges should be quashed. The trial judge dismissed his application, he appealed and the lower

court affirmed the trial court’s decision. He came here and I, hereby, dismiss this appeal as

unmeriteous.”

Dariye was accused of diverting the state’s funds, estimated at billions of Naira, while in office. He was

arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in 2007 on a 23-count charge, but,

he challenged the court’s jurisdiction, insisting that he should be tried in Jos.

Even when the Court of Appeal, in 2010, dismissed his appeal, he went to the Supreme Court, like others

of the elite class, who are using their right of appeal to prevent their trial.

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