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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 10:57 GMT
Nigerian state governor charged
Joshua Dariye
Dariye is also suspected of money-laundering activities in the UK
A state governor and two top bankers are among seven people charged in Nigeria with money laundering.

Plateau state leader, Governor Joshua Dariye, was accused of conspiring with the banking officials to divert nearly $9 million of public funds.

The move challenges an earlier court ruling that Mr Dariye had immunity from prosecution.

Four others face charges of felony and all of the accused could be sentenced to jail for up to 20 years.

Supporters of Mr Dariye accuse Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo of pursuing a vendetta against him.

Mr Dariye returned to office last month after the lifting of a six-month state of emergency imposed as a result of Muslim-Christian clashes, which have left thousands dead in the past three years.

He was suspended by President Obasanjo for not doing enough to control an upsurge in violence earlier this year.

Hundreds of Muslims were killed in May by Christians in the south of the state. This prompted riots in northern Nigeria.

UK probe

Mr Dariye returned to work to a hero's welcome despite allegations he was involved in money-laundering activities in the UK.

Girl running past burning building
The violence in Plateau sparked revenge attacks elsewhere
Nigeria's attorney general's office last month said Mr Dariye is suspected of diverting more than 1 ($1.9m) million from Nigeria's treasury to British bank accounts.

That accusation is separate to Tuesday's filing of charges.

Mr Dariye was not represented in Tuesday's federal high court proceedings.

All of the other accused have pleaded innocent.

Oil-rich Nigeria is regarded by the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International as the second most corrupt country in the world.

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