Witness goofs as Joshua Dariye’s corruption trial continues

Former Governor of Plateau state, Joshua Dariye.
Former Governor of Plateau state, Joshua Dariye.

The trial of a former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, continued on Monday before Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Gudu, Abuja, with a defence witness, Paul Datugum, a staff in the Office of the Accountant-General, Plateau State Ministry of Finance, failing to substantiate an alleged raid by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on the Ministry in 2005.

At Monday’s sitting, Mr. Datugum, who claimed to have worked in the State Ministry of Education between 2000 and 2006, told the court that his predecessor in the Central Cash Unit of the Office of the Accountant-General, the late Bala Kwafur, did not hand over any document to him because ‘‘EFCC staff had invaded and taken away all the documents in the Ministry of Finance by the time I was posted there.’’

Mr. Datugum, the seventh defence witness, DW7, said: ‘‘On that fateful day, I was in the Ministry of Education when we saw people from the Ministry of Finance running helter-skelter. Then, we saw a Hilux bus parked outside the Ministry of Finance and staff of EFCC were packing documents from the Office of the Accountant-General.’’

However, under cross-examination by the counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, Mr. Datugum, who admitted that the Ministry of Education building was some metres from the Ministry of Finance, said he did not see the particular documents that were allegedly carted away by operatives of the EFCC.

‘‘I did not see the particular documents; I did not see the contents either. But they were documents because they were packed inside Bagco bags (Jute bags),’’ he said.

When Jacobs further asked if DW7 saw the inventory of the documents allegedly taken away by operatives of the EFCC, he replied in the negative, saying, ‘‘I didn’t see the inventory.’’

The witness also told the court that the late Kwafur did not give him the inventory of documents allegedly taken by operatives of the EFCC.

While still cross-examining the witness, Mr. Jacobs told the court that the late Mr. Kwafur never mentioned in his statement to the EFCC that documents were moved away from his office.

When asked if he was aware that the Accountant-General, Nuhu Madaki, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, had been invited by the EFCC, Datugum, who denied being a politician or a supporter of the defendant, said: ‘‘ I am not aware that the Accountant-General has been invited by the EFCC or even charged to court.’’

Mr. Jacobs also pointed out to the court that the Accountant-General had instructed Mr. Datugum to search for the same documents, which he (Datugum) claimed had been carted away by operatives of the EFCC.

‘‘You remember you said in your statement that you spent days looking for the documents, without being able to identify them,’’ Mr. Jacobs added.

Responding, DW7 said: ‘‘I was looking for them for about a week at the Expenditure Control.’’

Justice Banjoko, thereafter, adjourned to Thursday, October 20, 2016 for the further hearing.

Mr. Dariye is being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly siphoning the state’s ecological fund to the tune of N1.16 billion.


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