Former Plateau State governor, Senator Joshua Dariye, continues to get his monthly allowances from the Nigerian Senate while he serves out a 10-year prison sentence.
The former governor had been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment by the Federal Capital Territory High Court on June 12, 2018, after he was found guilty of criminal breach of trust and diverting N1.162 billion state ecological funds while he was governor between 1999 and 2007.
The Appeal Court reduced the jail term from the initial 14 years to 10 years on November 16, ruling that the maximum sentence of 14 years was excessive especially because the former governor was a first-time offender.
Six months after his initial conviction, it has been discovered that the lawmaker representing Plateau Central Senatorial District is still receiving the N750,000 salary and N13.5 million monthly running cost from the National Assembly Commission.
According to a report by The Punch, Dariye's aide, Christopher John, said the lawmaker is entitled to the allowances as long as his seat is not declared vacant by the leadership of the National Assembly.
He said the lawmaker's seat cannot be declared vacant until the Supreme Court has ruled on his appeal at the apex court.
He said, "He has already appealed the case; so he is still a senator pending the decision of the Supreme Court.
"It is right for us to still be receiving salaries because his case has not ended. There are many other senators having issues with the courts like Senator Attah Idoko from Kogi State. Judgment was given in favour of AVM Isaac Alfa but since Idoko has appealed the case, he is still serving and attending sittings as a senator pending the outcome of the case.
"Aides should still be receiving salary because Dariye is still a senator. And he is still receiving his allowances and will continue to do so until the case is closed."
While he could not confirm whether Dariye was still receiving allowances or not, Yusuph Olaniyonu, a media aide to Senate President Bukola Saraki, said the lawmaker's seat cannot be declared vacant unless officially notified by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
"The Senate President has no power to declare any seat vacant except he is presented with a request. We have to receive official communication from those who prosecuted him. We cannot read a report in the newspapers and go ahead to declare his seat vacant. Those who convicted Senator Dariye never informed us that he had been convicted," he told The Punch.
The National Assembly's Director for Information, Jerry Agada, also told The Punch that Dariye's seat must be declared vacant before the payment of his allowances can be stopped by the the National Assembly Commission.
He said, "On our own, we have no power to stop the salary or allowances of any senator whose seat has not been declared vacant. Our intention was that his pay would be put on hold pending the outcome of the case but do we even have such powers?
"He remains a senator in the eyes of the law. It is not a matter of morality now but a matter of law. The power to declare any seat vacant resides in the Senate President or the Speaker."
Dariye sensationally made a non-refundable payment of N7 million to buy the nomination and expression of interest forms that would have allowed him to contest for re-election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The party's electoral committee screened him out and barred him from contesting in its primary election.