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Murtala Nyako, former governor of Adamawa state

22.01.2022 Featured From Alamieyeseigha to Nyako, 5 Ex-Governors Jailed for Corruption Since 1999

Published 22nd Jan, 2022

By Tola Owoyele

On January 18, an appeal court in Abuja dismissed a lawsuit filed by Murtala Nyako, a former governor of Adamawa State, seeking to overturn a previous High Court ruling that he had a case to answer in the money laundering charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Nyako, a retired Vice Admiral and former Governor of Adamawa State, is being prosecuted alongside Abdul-Aziz Nyako, his son; one Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifik Abba on 37 counts of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering.

While delivering the judgment on behalf of the three-man panel of justices of the Abuja appellate court, Justice Olabisi Ige upheld the ruling of the High Court, stating that both oral and documentary evidence filed against the former governor by the EFCC effectively linked him to the alleged N29 billion fraud.

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Nyako was also ordered to defend himself in the N29-billion fraud charge.

Murtala Nyako, former governor of Adamawa state.
Murtala Nyako

Five companies involved in the fraud, Blue Opal Ltd., Sebore Farms and Extension Ltd., Pagoda Fortunes Ltd., Tower Assets Management Ltd. and Crust Energy Ltd. were equally charged.

However, the retired naval officer is not the first governor to be accused of misappropriation of public funds since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999. Below are four other governors charged and eventually jailed for fraud:

JAMES IBORI

James Ibori, former governor of Delta State.
James Ibori

James Ibori served as Governor of Delta State between 1999 and 2007. In 2012, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for money laundering after being found guilty by a Crown Court in London.

Ibori’s unrest began when her kinsmen, under the auspices of the Delta State Elders and Stakeholders Forum, submitted a petition to the EFCC in 2007 alleging that the governor had misappropriated public funds.

As the allegation against Ibori was gathering steam in Nigeria, the Metropolitan Police in London raided the office of Bhadresh Gohil, his London-based lawyer.

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During the search, hard drives containing details of many frontier off-shore companies ran for Ibori by Gohil were recovered. In the end, and owing to these corruption allegations, Ibori’s United Kingdom assets, valued at $35 million, were forfeited.

In December 2007, Ibori was arrested by the EFCC in Abuja. He was charged with theft of public funds, abuse of office, and money laundering, among others. During that period, Nuhu Ribadu, the then EFCC chairman also accused Ibori of trying to bribe him with the sum of $15 million.

On December 17, 2009, a Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State, discharged and acquitted Ibori of all 170 charges of corruption brought against him by the EFCC.

However, in 2010, fresh charges, including embezzlement of public funds amounting to N40 billion, were filed against Ibori. But this time around, attempts to arrest him were unsuccessful.

It was later discovered that he had first fled from Abuja to Lagos, and then to Oghara, his hometown in Delta State, where he eventually departed the Nigeria through the creeks in the Niger Delta.

In the same year, Ibori was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and extradited to the UK through the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian and British governments.

On September 12, 2012, the former governor was sentenced to 13 years in prison by a London court after he was found guilty of stealing $250 million belonging to Nigerians.

In Nigeria, the EFCC also appealed the initial 2009 ruling by the Asaba High Court and won. With this, his case was also reopened in Nigeria.

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Ibori was eventually released in 2016 after serving four years out of the 13 years he was initially sentenced to in the United Kingdom.

Property worth £7 was also confiscated by the British government after his conviction.

In May 2021, the Nigerian government received a £4.2 million from the British government as part of what was recovered from the Ibori loot.

JOSHUA DARIYE

Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau State.
Joshua Dariye

Joshua Dariye assumed office in 1999 as Plateau State’s first democratically elected governor in the fourth republic. On completing his first 4 years in office, he was re-elected for another four years as governor of the state

In 2004, Dariye was arrested in London with a huge sum in his possession. However, because he was a serving governor at the time, he could not be prosecuted or charged for the crime.

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In 2006, the Plateau State House Assembly impeached Dariye on allegations of corruption, but in 2007, he was reinstated by a court of appeal. After completing his second term in office as Plateau governor in 2007, the EFCC filed corruption charges against him at an Abuja High Court.

Part of the 23 counts against Dariye was the misappropriation of about N1.6 billion of the Plateau State Government’s ecological funds for personal use.

In spite of the subsequent legal tussle that ensued, Dariye ended up getting elected as the senator representing Plateau Central Senatorial District between 2011 and 2019.

After a prolonged legal battle, a High Court in Gudu, Abuja, sentenced Dariye to 14 years in prison on charges of criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of funds while he was governor in June 2018.

After the sentencing was appealed by Dariye’s lawyers, Justice Stephen Adah of an Abuja appeal court reduced the jail term to ten years in November 2018.

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The ten year sentence was further affirmed by Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court in March 2021, when the matter was brought before the apex court.

DIEPREYE ALAMIEYESEIGHA

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governor of Bayelsa state.
Diepreye Alamieyeseigha

Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was sworn in as Bayelsa State’s first civilian governor in May 1999. After his first 4 years as governor, he got re-elected into office in 2003.

During his second term as governor, Alamieyeseigha was arrested by the metro police in London for money laundering in September 2005. The police reported that he had a total of $3.2 million in cash and his bank accounts. Further investigation revealed that he had four homes worth $15 million at different locations in London.

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All the recovered monies were said to have been stolen from Bayelsa State’s monthly federal allocations. By December of the same year, Alamieyeseigha had jumped bail from the United Kingdom and had miraculously found his way to Nigeria.

It was later stated that the governor had disguised as a woman while fleeing the United Kingdom.

 “I cannot tell you how I was brought here. It is a mystery. All the glory goes to God. Today I am back at my desk, forever committed to serving the people of Bayelsa and Nigeria. I thank the almighty God for his protection,” said Alamieyeseigha, while addressing his cheering supporters upon his return.

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He was eventually impeached on allegations of corruption and false asset declaration by members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly in the same year.

On July 26, 2007, Alamieyeseigha pleaded guilty before a Lagos High Court to six charges and was sentenced to two years in prison for each. He spent most of his prison term in a hospital while most of his assets also got confiscated.

In March 2013, Alamieyeseigha was pardoned by President Goodluck Jonathan, who was his deputy during his time as governor, but his pardoning was criticised by many, including the United States government.

On October 10, 2015, he died of cardiac arrest at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital in Rivers State.

ORJI UZOR KALU

Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State
Orji Uzor Kalu

Orji Uzor Kalu was the governor of Abia State from 1999 to 2007. In 2019, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Lagos High Court for defrauding the government of Abia State while in office as governor.

Kalu was accused of using Slok Nigeria Ltd., his company, to perpetrate N7.65 billion fraud. He was then detained in Ikoyi Prison in Lagos following a court ruling.

However, in May 2020, a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court declared Kalu’s conviction as null and void, setting aside the 2019 judgement of Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

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The apex court stated that Justice Idris was already a justice of the Court of Appeal at the time he delivered the judgment sentencing Kalu. A retrial was ordered by the court and Kalu was released from  the Nigerian Correctional Service, Kuje, Abuja, on June 3 2020.

The case took another dramatic turn when in September 2021, a Federal High Court in Abuja stopped the EFCC from retrying Kalu.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, gave the order after Orji’s lawyers filed a fresh application to prevent their client from being retried.

“An order is hereby made prohibiting the federal government through the EFCC, her agents, officers, servants, other agents and any other person or bodies deriving authority from the federal government from retrying the applicant (Kalu) on charge no. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 FRN vs Kalu and two others on or any other charge based on the same facts,
the said applicant having been tried, convicted and sentenced by the judgment of this court dated Dec. 5, 2019, by Justice M.B Idris,” the judgement read.

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Orji Uzor Kalu is presently the senator representing Abia North Senatorial District in the ninth national assembly. He also holds a principal position as the chief whip of the Senate. In January, Kalu declared his ambition to run for president in 2023.

Published 22nd Jan, 2022

By Tola Owoyele

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