Nigerian governors have a lot of responsibility when they’re in office. In charge of their state’s budget and with access to large amounts of money, these men and women are in a position to make a tremendous change—for better or for worse.
Sadly, many Nigerian governors haven’t used the power entrusted to them for good; instead, they’ve used their position for personal gain. Often, that means stealing from the public coffers or misappropriating funds meant for one project toward another.
While these governors enjoy the lavish lifestyle that comes with wealth and power while in office, as soon as they step down from their role as governors, an investigation begins into their activities while in office. Here are some Nigerian governors who have been sent to jail after their time as governors:
Nigerian Governors Who Were Sent to Jail After Office
Mr. James Ibori served as the governor of Delta state. A judge in London handed down the thirteen-year prison term after finding him guilty of stealing from the government of Nigeria. Ibori was found guilty of stealing at least $250 million of public monies during the time that he served as governor of Delta state.
He pled guilty to ten charges of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown Court in London. He was then punished for his crimes. Ibori was granted a court order that resulted in his release from jail in December of 2016. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, however, he only spent four of those years.
Late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha
Ex-governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha served as governor of Bayelsa state in Nigeria. In 2007, he was found guilty on charges including money laundering and bribery and received a sentence of two years in prison. After spending almost two years in custody while awaiting trial, he was only required to serve a few days of his sentence.
In 2005, Alamieyeseigha was first detained in London, but he jumped bail and made his way back to Nigeria disguised as a woman. Later, he was removed from office on the allegations brought against him at home, and the authorities took measures to take a significant portion of his property in Britain. On the 10th of October 2015, it was announced that he passed away at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital as the result of a heart attack.
Joshua Dariye served as Plateau State’s governor for a while. Additionally, he was a senator in the year 2018. On the 20th of January in 2004, he was detained in London, England, while he was still serving as governor. He was in possession of huge amounts of funds. It was alleged that he stole around $9 million worth of public cash and engaged in money laundering.
In 2007, the EFCC filed 23 charges of money laundering against Dariye, most of which included the alleged misappropriation of around N1.126 billion in ecological funds from the Plateau State Government.
In 2018, a high court in Abuja handed down a sentence of 14 years in jail to Dariye for the allegations of criminal breach of trust and misuse of money (1.6 billion Naira) that were brought against him when he was serving as Governor of the state of Plateau. The original sentence of 14 years that had been handed down to Dariye was reduced to 10 years in 2018.
He served as the governor of Taraba State in the past. After being found guilty on 27 out of 41 charges of suspected misappropriation of public funds. Nyame was given a sentence of 14 years in jail without the opportunity of paying a fine.
Lucky Igbenedion was the first Nigerian ex-governor to be convicted of stealing from the public coffers. He served as governor of Edo state during his time in office. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused him of 142 instances of corruption totaling N25 billion while utilizing front organizations.
In 2008, Lucky made a deal to engage in a plea bargain with the commission. As part of the deal, he returned a portion of the money that was said to have been stolen by him and then went home.
James Bala Ngilari
Up until May 2015, he served as the governor of the Adamawa state in the state’s northeastern region. He was found guilty of failing to follow proper procedure when he was awarded a contract for the purchase of 25 vehicles at a sum of 167 million Naira ($548,891).
Ngilari was given a sentence of five years in prison without the possibility of paying a fine after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in September 2016 found him guilty of five of the 17 accusations that had been brought against him. His conviction did not last long since he was eventually exonerated and released by the Court of Appeal after appealing his case.
Orji Uzor Kalu
Orji Kalu was elected as the governor of Abia State on May 29, 1999, and he served in that capacity until May 29, 2007. In addition to other multiple sentences ranging from 3 years to 5 years on 27 counts, the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court found Kalu guilty on Thursday, December 5, 2019, and sentenced him to 12 years in prison for fraud involving N7.65 billion.
The other sentences ranged from 3 years to 5 years. The request for his release from detention at Kuje Prison was granted by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The plea of the applicant was heard by Justice Mohammed Liman, who was presiding over the ongoing action of the applicant, and he ordered the release of Kalu.
Since corruption is a problem that has become deeply ingrained in Nigeria’s political system, some public office holders get arraigned for corruption and money laundering, but then the case is dropped and nothing more is heard about it. Other public office holders, however, do get served, even though many Nigerians believe that such punishments ought to be more severe so that offenders can better understand the struggles of the average citizen.
As our nation continues to make progress with the rule of law, hopefully, we will see fewer and fewer of these instances in the future.