By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday ordered the final forfeiture of the Abuja mansion acquired by a former governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye to the Federal Government.
Dariye is currently serving jail term following his successful prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on charges of criminal breach of trust and dishonest conversion of about N1.2billion belonging to Plateau State.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu, in a judgment on Monday dismissed an application by Dariye in which he had among others, prayed the court to release the property at Plot 1802 A04, No: 19 Fredrick Chiluba Close, Asokoro, Abuja to him.
Justice Egwuatu upheld the argument by lawyer to the EFCC, Oluwaleke Atolagbe that Dariye’s claim that the property belonged to his company – Ebenezer Retnan Ventures – was false because the said company has been found to be a bogus entity.
The judge found that an earlier interim forfeiture order on the property, obtained by the EFCC in the course of Dariye’s trial, was never contested.
He added that in view of the finding by the trial court that he was masquerading in the name of Ebenezer Retnan Ventures, an unregistered company and in whose name the property was acquired, he cannot claim legitimate ownership.
The EFCC had, while opposing Dariye’s application, argued among others, that it obtained an interim forfeiture order in respect of the property in the course of Dariye’s trial, which order was to subsist pending the conclusion of the trial.
It added that since the trial has been concluded and Dariye jailed, it was proper that the court order the final forfeiture of the convict’s known property.
EFCC stated: “The charge against the respondent (now convicted): FCT/CR/81/2007 between Federal Republic of Nigeria vs. Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye was determined resulting into the respondent’s conviction.
“Both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court upheld the convict on 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 Plateau State Government had clearly been dishonestly converted by the respondent to his own use by the intricate dishonest contrivance.
“By the decision of the Supreme Court in Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye vs. FRN, appeal No: SC/1206C/2018, delivered on the 12th March, 2021, it is affirmed that Ebenezer Retnan Ventures, an unregistered company was involved and used to commit the crime for which the respondent was convicted.
“By the decision of the Supreme Court in Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye vs. FRN, appeal No: SC/1206C/2018, delivered on the 12th March, 2021 at page 41, it is affirmed that there are credible evidence that the respondent was masquerading in the name of Ebenezer Retnan Ventures, an unregistered company to cause wrongful gain to himself.”