Embattled former Plateau State governor,

Joshua Dariye was reported to have jumped bail in
London about 12 years ago, a British detective who
apprehended the ex-governor for money laundering in
the United Kingdom, was in Abuja yesterday to give
details of how the incident occurred.
Peter Clerk, a detective with the London Metropolitan
Police, who testified as a witness in the trial of Dariye
before the High Court of the Federal Capital territory
(FCT) explained how Dariye jumped bail in London in
2004 while still serving as a governor.
Clerk, now retired, said the warrant issued by a London
court for Dariye’s arrest was still valid date and that
the ex-governor would be arrested anytime the United
Kingdom authorities felt the need.
Dariye, who was Plateau governor between 1999 and
2007, and now senator representing Plateau Central, is
being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission on 23 counts of diversion of the
N1.61bn ecological fund meant for land reclamation
and flood chanelisation works at Bokkos part of the
state.

The witness, who also gave details of how Dariye was
arrested with a lady – Christabel Bentu – in a hotel in
London in 2004, said the ex-governor opened nine
accounts in Barclays Bank, London in 1995, and told
the bank he (Dariye) was a Manager with Benue
Cement.

Clerk, who said he retired in 2015, told the court that
his investigation of Dariye was informed by the arrest
of some of his associates, who claimed he (Dariye)
owned some of the cash found on them.
Led in evidence by lead prosecution lawyer, Rotimi
Jacobs (SAN), Clerk, who was the 9th prosecution
witness, denied the defence’s insinuation that he came
to testify in the case in Nigeria because of his anger
against Dariye over his refusal to return to London after
he was granted bail.

“On September 28, 2004 we were informed that Mr.
Dariye was in London in a hotel. I went there with two
other officers. When we got there, I informed him that
we were investigating his accounts and we arrested him
and informed him, under caution that we believe that
the money in relation to money laundering. He said
nothing.

“We further informed him that we will search the hotel
room. We went to 1220 room and found Christabel
Bentu and searched same and found 50,000 pounds
cash. She said was arrested for suspicious money
laundering.

She said she is his Personal Assistant.
“We searched Mr. Dariye’s hotel room and found
43,000 pounds cash and other denominations and
currencies. Christabel Bentu was taken to West Central
Police Station, while Dariye was taken to another police
station and he was interviewed by me for about 2
hours.

“In September 2004, I looked at Mr. Dariye in the eye
and said to him, I know you are a very religious man. I
asked him, will you come back on September 14,
2004? He said yes, he will, but failed to show up.
Bentu also failed to show up.

“Immediately, we made an application for his arrest in
Landon. The warrant is still valid till today. It was
circulated in all computers that Dariye was wanted. If I
had the evidence given to me in December 2004 by
EFCC in Nigeria, Dariye would have been charged in
London.

“We did not ask for his extradition because we knew he
had immunity from prosecution as a serving governor.

So we did not pursue extradition. When he left office in
May 2007, the EFCC arrested him and started their
proceedings. We did not interfere with that proceeding,
because we know that domestic proceedings will take
precedent,” Clerk said.

The witness also told the court how Dariye allegedly
bought property in London, using a proxy.

He also told the court that Dariye opened nine accounts
in Barclays Bank in 1995, but with little activities until
May 1999 when Dariye became governor.

“The money that was paid by this company (Pinnacle
Communications Limited) amounted to 395,000pounds
for the property at No: 28 Regent Plaza Apartment, 8
Grevile Road, London, NW8.
“Barclays Bank confirmed that Pinnacle
Communications had an account with their branch in
North West. One Lucky Omorhuwa, his driver was
arrested by me. The driver said, prior to the day of the
purchase, he drove Dariye and Lucky Omorhuwa to
purchase the apartment.
“Lucky was arrested and he admitted that he purchased
the property for Dariye and that he was given naira
equivalent in Nigeria.
“From examining Mr. Dariye’s account, we discovered
that he travelled all over the world, from his passport,
we saw stamps from several countries. We found seven
pairs of shoes, which cost 700pounds per pair. He
paid Euro7, 000 for a pen. He purchased a lot of things
in high luxurious stores.
Under cross-examination by Dariye’s lawyer, Garba
Pwul (SAN), the witness said “I’m here on my own free
will. I started the investigation of the case in January
2004 in London. So, as a good police officer, I was
interested in seeking to the end of the case I started.

That was why I came.”
Clerk, who confirmed that he earlier testified some
years before an investigative committee in Jos, Plateau
State, explained that he did not complete his evidence
before the investigating Committee in Jos because the
defence was playing games.

“They would not ask me questions on the evidence.
They had three days to cross examine me. They had
ample opportunity to have asked me all they wanted.
But they were playing game and were concerned about
the admissibility of the evidence,” he said.

He admitted that the evidence he gave actually led to
Dariye’s impeachment.

He also acknowledged that the Court of Appeal and
Supreme Court set aside the impeachment.

On whether he knew the Court of Appeal and Supreme
Court set aside the impeachment because he did not
complete his evidence, he said the defence had
sufficient to have concluded cross-examining him.

On whether it was not the same issue that played out,
since he also refused to return to London, said he did
not sign an undertaking, but that Dariye signed an
undertaking.

“He broke the law in London by not coming back. He
signed an undertaking to return but he refused to return.

Mr. Dariye knows he is wanted in London. That is why
he has not returned to London. Since 2004 and now,
2016, he has not returned to the UK. Before then, he
used to frequent London every now and then.”

On Pwul’s claim that he was motivated to testify before
the court by the anger he bore against Dariye, the
witness said “In my career, there are many people, who
have refused to return after being granted bail. You do
not get angry, you get used to it. I was used to it.”

The witness said he attended the court today because
of the invitation from the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission (EFCC). he told the court that he
trip to Nigeria, accommodation and all other expenses
have been taken care of by the National Crime
Agency  of the UK and the British High Commission in
Nigeria.

Clerk ended his testimony yesterday, following which the
trial judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko adjourned to
June 6 for continuation of the matter .

End


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