A detective of the Metropolitan Police Service in London on Monday, has narrated to an Abuja High Court sitting in Gudu, how former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, jumped bail in London and was still wanted in the United Kingdom over his alleged involvement in money laundering.
The court was also made to understand that a 2004 warrant of arrest issued against Dariye – now a serving senator representing Plateau Central – who evaded bail in London and escaped to Nigeria to avoid prosecution, was still valid.
Speaking on Monday to the court as the ninth prosecution witness, the detective that led a team of Met police officers that arrested Dariye on September 28, 2004, Mr. Peter Clerk, testified before Justice Adebukola Banjoko on charges of alleged diversion of about N1.162bn Ecological Fund meant for Plateau State in 2004 leveled against Dariye.
Clerk, who is now retired, also gave details of Dariye’s alleged extravagant spending, including the purchase of a pen for £7,000 in London, before the former governor was arrested.
He said, “From the examination of Mr. Dariye’s account, he travelled all over the world. From his passport, we saw stamps of several countries.
“We found seven pairs of shoes which cost £700 per pair. He paid £7,000 for a pen. He purchased a lot of things in high luxurious stores.”
On how he was arrested in his hotel room in London on September 28, 2004, Clerk said:
“On September 28, 2004, we were informed that Joshua Dariye was in London in a hotel. I went there with two other officers who also identified themselves as police officers.
“I informed him (Dariye) that we were investigating his accounts and we arrested and informed him under caution that we believed that the money was stolen and proceeds of money laundering. He said nothing.”
“When Dariye was arrested, £43,000 was found in the former governor’s hotel room.”
“On the same day, £50,000, out of which £40,000 belonged to Dariye, was found with a lady, Christabel Bentu, who was said to have claimed to be a Personal Assistant to the former governor, in another room in the same hotel.
“In September 2004, £43,000 in cash was found in Dariye’s room when it was searched. There were various denominations and currencies including Scottish notes, dollars, euros.
“The cash seized was packed into a container, for which he signed. It was photographed. I have copies of the photograph. Dariye and Christopher Bentu were taken to the police.”
Clerk stated that Dariye was later released on bail and was expected to return to London in December 2004, but never did.
Clerk added, “Dariye was informed that if he attempted to move any money, he would be charged for further money laundering.
“In September 2004, I looked at Joshua Dariye in the eyes and said to him, ‘I know you are a religious man’, I asked him if he would come back on December 14, 2004. He said ‘yes’, he would, but he failed to show up. Bentu also failed to show up.
“My colleague searched his property and found £11,995 on the premises and some flyers. They also found three Barclays cheques. They were all seized immediately we made an application for his arrest in London. The arrest warrant is still valid till today. It was circulated in all computers that Dariye was wanted.”
The Punch gathered that the detective of the Metropolitan Police deliberately did not ask for Dariye’s extradition to London because he was under immunity as a serving governor, but that soon after he completed his tenure in 2007, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission filed charges against him.
He said, “He (Dariye) failed to return for his bail. I immediately applied for a warrant of arrest, which was granted by a Magistrate in London. That is still valid. He is wanted in London as of today.”
Meanwhile, Dariye, pleaded not guilty to the charge against him.
Justice Banjoko adjourned trial till June 6.