In what can be considered an unprecedentedly fearless and bold move, Justice Adebukola Banjoko has successfully convicted and sent two former governors to jail: Jolly Nyame, former governor of Taraba, and Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau state.
On Wednesday, May 30, Justice Banjoko sentenced Nyame to 14 years in prison without an option of fine.
This is Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory High Court who found former governor of Taraba State, Reverend Jolly Nyame guilty for criminal breach of trust on 23rd May 2018.
She was so appalled at Nyame’s brazen theft of public money that she bellowed: “There’s no moral justification for the level of outright theft, and the Court must therefore, impose a statement, hopefully as a deterrent to other public officers, who may be similarly inclined”
Justice Banjoko stated that Nyame, a clergyman, as governor of Taraba, breached the trust reposed in him by the indigenes of the state, when he misappropriated N250 million which he approved purportedly for the purchase of stationery for the state.
In a ruling which lasted more than 4 hours, Justice Banjoko found Nyame guilty of 16 counts, bordering on criminal breach of public trust.
The angry judge sentenced him to a total of 28 years in prison, 14 years of which was for criminal breach of trust.
4 years ago, Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal High Court, Gudu, Abuja, while presiding over the alleged $620,000 bribery suit brought against a member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan, withdrew from the case .
The judge ordered that the suit be returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Ibrahim Bukar.
Mr. Lawan, a former Chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee on Fule Subsidy Regime, and the Secretary of the Committee, Boniface Emenalo, are being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, for receiving the bribe from a businessman, Femi Otedola.
The suit commenced on February 2013 when Messrs. Lawan and Emenalo, were arraigned on a seven-count charge.
Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi had presided over the suit until his elevation to the Court of Appeal, the reason it was assigned to Mrs. Banjoko.
The lawmaker, through his counsel, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, had on October 29, 2013 filed an application demanding the withdrawal of Mrs. Banjoko, but withdrew it.
Besides, Mr. Lawan personally petitioned the FCT Chief Judge, alleging that the judge may likely be bias because of her close relationship with Mr. Otedola, who is the accuser and a witness in the case.
Despite the withdrawal of the application by Mr. Lawan, the judge still quit, saying that though Mr. Bukar had cleared her of the allegation against her by the lawmaker, Mrs. Banjoko said it was a “scandalous challenge” on her integrity.
She said, “In my 17 years on the bench, six years and as a magistrate and 11 years as a judge, I have never been confronted with a scandalous challenge of my integrity.”
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Mr. Ozekhome, who withdrew the application he filed on behalf of his client, pleaded with the judge that day to ignore the wrong impression it might have created.
The prosecuting counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, who also apologised on behalf of Mr. Lawan, asked Mrs. Banjoko, to continue to handle the case, but the judge declined.
While denying that she was not in any way close to Mr. Otedola, the judge insisted she would stay away from the case because “justice is rooted in confidence.” She also stated that the lawmaker had already exhibited lack of confidence in her.
According to her, “In the prevailing circumstances, I do find it difficult to continue this case. This case is returned to the honourable Chief Judge for re-assignment.”