By Ahmed Usman Jalingo
Finally, the Nigeria’s apex courtThe Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and 12-year imprisonment handed to the former Governor of Taraba State, Reverend Jolly Nyame by the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
The Court of Appeal, in a November 16, 2018 judgment upheld Nyame’s conviction and sentencing by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over his fraudulent conduct while in office as governor, which included diversion of public funds.
In a judgment on Friday, a five-man panel of the Supreme Court said Nyame’s appeal partially succeeded.
The apex court upheld the portion of the Court of Appeal judgment relating to conviction and sentencing but set aside the portion of the judgment which imposed millions of naira fines on the ex-Governor.
Justice Amina Augie, who read the lead judgment, said the Court of Appeal imposed the fines without any prompting by either of the parties to the case.
Nyame had appealed against the November 16, 2018 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which affirmed his conviction by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Gudu, Abuja in a judgment given on May 30, 2018 by Justice Adebukola Banjoko.
In the May 30 judgment, given in the charge marked: FCT/ABJ/CR/82/07, the trial court convicted Nyame on 27 out of the 41 counts contained in the charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in July 2007.
He was convicted on 16 counts of criminal breach of trust, 9 counts of criminal misappropriation, 1 count of gratification and 1 count of accepting a valuable thing without consideration. He was found to have converted Taraba State’s funds estimated at N1.64billion. The trial court sentenced him to a cumulative 28-year imprisonment, without an option of fine.
The breakdown of the sentence is as follows: 14 years upon conviction for criminal breach of trust; seven years for receiving gratification; five years for obtaining valuable public properties without consideration, and two years for criminal misappropriation.
In its November 16, 2018 judgment on the appeal marked: CA/A/658C/2018, the Court of Appeal, affirmed Nyame’s conviction and the order for the forfeiture of his identified asset, but faulted the trial court in its decision to impose maximum sentences.
The Court of Appeal said since Nyame was found to be first time offenders, the trial court should not have imposed the maximum sentences.
The Appeal Court reduced the 14 years sentence to 12 years; the seven-year was cut to five years; the five years was reduced to three years, while the sentence of two years was reduced to 1 year and nine months.
The Court of Appeal went further to impose various fines on Nyame, the highest of which is N100m. He will pay the highest of the fines.
It was the portion of the Court of Appeal judgment which relates to fine that the Supreme Court set aside in its judgment on Friday.