ONE of the reasons that crimes and corruption continue to flourish at the top echelon of the Nigerian ruling establishment is that the country is highly tolerant of malfeasance. The case of convicted Senator Joshua Dariye (who was the Governor of Plateau State between 1999 and 2007) proves this point beyond doubt.

Dariye was sent to a 14-year jail term (later reduced to 10 years) by the Federal Capital Territory High Court presided over by Justice Adebukola Banjoko on a 23-count charge of diversion and laundering of 1.126 billion naira Ecological Funds belonging to the Plateau State Government. While sentencing Dariye, Justice Banjoko had called it “a brazen act of looting.”

When the outrageous news broke last week that convicted Dariye has continued to be paid his hefty salaries and allowances as a serving senator, most Nigerians could not believe their ears. The report had it that despite being hauled into the Kuje Prisons, Abuja on June 12, 2018, the Senate has so far credited a whopping N85.5 million into Dariye’s account.

This was the shocking climax of the convicted Senator’s bravado, coming on the heels of his attempt to contest for the 2019 senatorial election from prison.

He had already paid his seven million nomination fee but was later disqualified by his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC. He had reportedly continued to receive his hordes of supporters while in jail.

Sources at the Senate said Dariye remains a senator as his seat has not been declared vacant. Apparently, the Attorney- General of the Federation, who is supposed to officially notify the Senate of Dariye’s conviction has not done so because his case is still on appeal at the Supreme Court.

We vehemently disagree with the Senate over its decision to continue to pay Dariye his full benefits after being convicted and sent to jail. The Judge’s decision to send him to jail was a strong enough prompt to suspend his perks of office until his appeals are fully exhausted. If he is exonerated, he can always collect all his pending entitlements.

Continuing to pay Dariye his dues even after conviction sends a very negative signal that our government condones criminality. It is a great injustice to the valiant effort of the Judiciary to honour the anti-graft agenda of the government of the day and assert the long arm of the law.

It is unfortunate that the Senate would neglect the payment of the wages of its workers while considering convicted Senator Dariye’s “entitlements” a priority.

We call on the upper Federal legislative chamber to stop forthwith the payments of official entitlement to Senator Dariye until his final appeal is exhausted.

This is so wrong.

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