Indeed, Christmas is an extraordinary moment, not only in Nigeria but also in the world. On December 25, Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, and the day has become synonymous with merrymaking.
However, some important figures in Nigeria did not spend Christmas with their families but behind jail cells’ freezing bars.
However, some influential figures in Nigeria did not spend Christmas with their families but behind prison cells’ cold bars.
Joshua Dariye, the former Governor of Plateau State, is currently in prison as a top shot.
Dariye was sentenced to 16 years in prison for N1.126 billion fraud by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in June 2018. He served two-year and 14-year prison sentences, respectively, with no appropriate alternative, although the Court of Appeal four years shortened his time.
He was convicted of two primary forms of offenses, namely criminal confidence infringement and criminal misappropriation.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged him with money laundering in 2007, accusing him of diverting the sum through Ebenezer Reitner Ventures, an unregistered business Plateau government’s ecological fund.
Though a Muslim, the Islamic Movement leader in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, spent his sixth consecutive December 25, behind bars on Friday. On December 14 December 14, 2015, after a clash between his supporters and Nigerian Army officers, El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, were arrested by security operatives.
At least 500 Shiites were killed during the incident, with no army officer ever charged with the murder.
However, pending numerous court orders for their release, El-Zakzaky and Zeenat have remained in custody.
They are both facing eight counts, among others, of guilty murder, illegal assembly, and disturbance of public peace.
The government accused the IMN of failing to accept the Nigerian constitution and authority.
In several Nigerian cities, his prolonged detention has sparked many demonstrations by members of the Shiite movement.
Jolly Nyame, the former Governor of Taraba State, is another prisoner who possibly had his Christmas meals inside the jail.
After leaving office in 2007, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged Nyame with fraud of N1.64 billion on 41 counts of fraud.
In 2007, out of N250 million intended for stationery in Taraba State, the former governor confessed to misappropriating N180 million and offered to return the same.
On May 30, 2018, under the ruling of Justice Adebukola Banjoko, Nyame was convicted of the charges against him by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and was sentenced to 14 years in jail. He was also forced to return the funds that he had diverted.
In November 2018, his conviction on 29 counts was upheld by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
However, the Appellate Court reviewed the sentences levied by the trial court and ordered him to pay a fine of N185 million and sentenced him to five different 12-year jail terms, which were to run simultaneously instead of the original 14-year jail term.
The Supreme Court upheld the 12-year prison term judgment on February 7, 2020, and set aside the fines levied on him by the courts because they were outrageous and done without prompting them.
Abdulraheed Maina, former chairman of the disbanded Pension Reform Task Force, is another significant individual currently in jail (PRTT).
In July 2015, along with former Head of Operation, Steve Oronsaye, Osarenkhoe Afe, and Fredrick Hamilton B Global Services Limited, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged Maina for alleged procurement fraud and acquisition by pretense.
Four months later, after he fled to Saudi Arabia, the former pension chief was declared wanted by the EFCC for the N2 billion Pensions Biometric Scam.
On October 25, 2019, Maina was prosecuted by the anti-graft agency alongside his company, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
While he is now facing 12 counts of N2 billion bordering on money laundering, he has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Maina was extradited to Nigeria after his arrest in the Niger Republic in November 2020. He had jumped bail, leading to the arrest of Ali Ndume, a serving Senator, who stood as his surety.