* I need AGF’s notice, says Saraki Ten months after Senator Joshua Dariye was jailed for corruption, the Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday said it had not been able to conduct by-election in Plateau North Senatorial District because the leadership of the Senate had yet to declare the seat of the former governor of Plateau State vacant. Dariye was elected into the Senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, but defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress in the heat of his trial. INEC said it was the duty of the Senate to declare the seat vacant, an action it said would enable it to conduct a fresh election in the senatorial district. The National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the commission would only conduct a by-election in a senatorial district or federal constituency, if the seat was declared vacant by the principal officers of the Senate or the House of Representatives. Okoye said, “Did anybody declare his seat vacant? We cannot conduct any by-election in any constituency without the seat being declared vacant by the principal officers of the Senate or the House of Representatives.” Dariye was on June 12, 2018, sentenced to 14 years imprisonment by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Gudu, Abuja, presided by Justice Adebukola Banjoko. The judge convicted the former governor on charges of criminal breach of trust and criminal appropriation of the state’s funds. However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja reduced the jail term. The three-man appellate court, comprising Justices Abdul Aboki, Stephen Adah and Atinuke Komolafe-Wilson on November 16 reduced the sentence from 14 years to 10 years for criminal breach of trust while it reduced a similar conviction for diversion of N1.62bn ecological funds from two years to one year. The sentences run concurrently. Adah, who read the lead judgment on behalf of the panel, had stated that while the conviction was right, Dariye should have been jailed for 10 years. He added that the verdict was a unanimous decision. I need AGF’s notice, says Saraki Meanwhile, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki says he cannot unilaterally declare vacant, the seat of Senator Joshua Dariye unless the senate receives a notification to that effect from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. The Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated this in a text message he sent to one our correspondents on Wednesday, while responding to why Saraki had yet to declare the seat of Dariye vacant. Olaniyonu said, “They should ask the AGF if he has officially inform the Senate President about the state and condition of the Senator. “The Senate President does not and cannot work on PUNCH reports; otherwise the same PUNCH will blame him for arbitrarily declaring vacant the seat of a colleague who is in the opposition party. “The Attorney-General needs to write to the Clerk to the National Assembly who will in turn, inform the Senate President.” When contacted, spokesperson for the Minister of Justice, Mr. Salihu Isah, said he needed to discuss with his principal to be updated on the issue “Let me discuss with the minister to know how to respond to your question,” he said.]]>

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