Posted by By Tokunbo Adedoja on
An international warrant of arrest, which mandates all law officers all over the world to seek and arrest Plateau State Governor, Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye, has been issued by a London High Court a few days ago.
An international warrant of arrest, which mandates all law officers all over the world to seek and arrest Plateau State Governor, Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye, has been issued by a London High Court a few days ago. Dariye is declared wanted for alleged money laundering and corrupt practices.
The Court, acting on an application by London Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service, also ordered the freezing of all assets and bank accounts of Dariye, including houses, anywhere in the world.
A senior official of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) confirmed this to THISDAY and described the order as a major milestone in the war against corruption embarked upon by the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
By this international warrant of arrest, Dariye may find only Nigeria a safe haven because of the immunity he enjoys by virtue of the provisions of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution. The section precludes the president, vice president, governor and deputy from prosecution.
The source said that the order has shown that henceforth, there will be no hidden place for those who loot public funds and stash them in coded accounts overseas.
"The Federal Government, as part of its new strategy against corruption, is determined to build a global coalition against corruption and will hunt down all officers elected or not, now or in future, who engage in corrupt practices. With this development, all those who believe they have stolen public funds and have it hidden away in London, Paris, Dubai, Johanesbourg or anywhere else will soon find that their days are numbered. International coalition against corruption is beginning to bare its teeth", the official said.
While commending the Crown Prosecution Service and the London Metropolitan Police for what he described as a landmark development, the source also disclosed that should EFCC succeed against Dariye at the Federal High Court, Kaduna it will move to take over the account of the governor in London and repatriate all the funds to Plateau State government.
When contacted EFCC Chairman, Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu, declined comments but only said that he was happy because it is a positive development that will open a new chapter in the war against corruption by the Obasanjo administration.
Since last year Dariye has been dogged by a web of allegations bordering on money laundering and other financial crimes.
Mid last year, the Plateau governor was quizzed in London by the Metropolitan Police on account of money laundering with about £80,000 allegedly found on him while another £2 million was said to be stashed in his account.
Mid-way into the six months emergency rule imposed on Plateau State following the ethno-religious crisis that enveloped the north-central state, Dariye, who had traveled to London, was again arrested by the Metropolitan Police in his hotel room in company of a lady over allegations of money laundering with substantial amount of money allegedly found in his possession. He was also said to have been given a December, 2004 date for re-appearance before the Metropolitan Police to allow for further investigation of his financial activities.
EFCC late last year arraigned Dariye as well as some officials of the All States Trust Bank for committing financial crime. The Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna struck out the charges against Dariye citing immunity clause. The trial of the bank officials is still on.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi, last year, wrote the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly detailing allegations of criminal offences against the governor. The offences, which were grouped in parts, involves those committed in violation of British law and those which violated Nigerian laws.
The letter accused Dariye of money laundering contrary to Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, illegal transaction in foreign exchange contrary to Section 29 of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring etc) Act, 1995, false declaration contrary to Section 164 of the Penal Code.
He was also accused of false declaration contrary to Section 25(1) of the Corrupt Practices etc Act, false declaration contrary to Section 11(1) and (2) of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers contained in the 5th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, and maintaining foreign bank accounts contrary to Section 3 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers contained in the 5th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.
The letter stated that on January 20, 2004, while conducting a search at 127 Chiltern House, Portland St London SE17, in connection with a suspected case of theft of computer equipment via internet purchase, the Metropolitan Police found £11,560.00 in a locked briefcase which was claimed by one Christopher Mekwunye who maintained that Dariye gave him the money to deposit into his account with Barclays Bank, London.
It further stated that a search of the building revealed documents including a Barclays bank statement (Account No. 701970410) in the name of Dariye with an address of Flat 28, Regents Plaza apartments, 8 Greville Road, London NW6, with a one off credit of £918,029.00 transferred in on August 27, 2002.
The letter also stated that subsequent search of Dariye's address yielded financial documents indicating that he also banked with National Westminster Bank Plc and held a Barclay card while enquiries with these banks have shown that he operates two accounts with Barclays Bank with balances of £826,493.50 and £46,057.15p respectively. This, the letter added, is in addition to two other accounts with National Westminster Plc with balances of £175,000.00 and $80,000.00 which brings the number of bank accounts operated by the governor in the United Kingdom to eight, seven of which are sterling accounts and the remaining one, a dollar account.
Apart from this, the letter stated that on September 2, 2004 Dariye was arrested in his Marriot Hotel room in London by the Metropolitan Police while various amounts of money in different currencies totaling well over £90,000.00 were recovered from him. During interrogation, he was alleged to have admitted ownership of the accounts as well as his failure to declare the said accounts in the assets declaration form he deposed to after assuming office as governor of Plateau State.
A total of about £300,000.00 belonging to Dariye was also said to have been confiscated by the police and paid into an interest yielding account operated by the Metropolitan Police.
The letter also stated that enquiries conducted in Nigeria indicate that Dariye has extensive real estate holdings at prime locations in Jos and Abuja which he failed to declare in his Assets Declaration forms in 1999 and 2003.
The assets include Yelwa Club, Bukuru, Jos, residential building near Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Staff Quarters, Maitama, Abuja, residential building at Ebenezer Close, Asokoro, Abuja, undeveloped expanse of land at Aminu Kano Crescent, opposite Maitama District Hospital, Abuja, and a building at Wuse II, off Aminu Kano Crescent, Abuja.