NIGERIAN POLITICAL NEWS
On October 15, 2011
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Daniel, who was facing a – 16 count charge by the Economic andFinancial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was however warned against attempting to jeopardise investigation after being granted the bail, as that would compel the court to revoke the bail.
Standing for him as sureties were include former ADC to former Chief of staff Lt.Gen. Oladipo DIya; Col. Emmanuel Soda (rtd) and Oba Timothy Akinsanya , the Ewusi of Makun Sagamu.
Otunba Gbenga Daniel inside the courtroom yesterday
The former governor was arrested last week. After a brief detention at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja, Daniel was flown to Abeokuta where he was charged for money laundering, conversion and theft of state funds. The trial date is set for November 16 and 17th 2011.
While giving the ruling on the application of the bail filed by Daniel counsel, Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje said “the sureties must be ordinary residents within the jurisdiction of this honorable court,
have landed property within the jurisdiction of this honorable court and they must swear to an affidavit as well as submission of their tittle documents to the chief registrar of this honorable court withtwo clear passport photographs.
The judge who affirmed that though the offences were bailable, however disagreed with Daniel counsels, saying he could not grant the accused the bail on self-recognition .
Contrary to the expectation that the hearing might not be heard due to the state workers strike, few judicial workers defied the directives of the labour leaders as they resumed worked which allowed the court to sit. Meanwhile, EFCC on Friday raided the Victoria Island, Lagos office of one of Daniel’s associates, Mr. Wale Ajisebutu, and carted away files and other documents. The source explained that the raid was in line with the efforts by the anti-graft agency to build its case against Daniel.
Ajisebutu, a very close friend and confidante of Daniel, is the MD, 21st Century Technology Limited, a telephone company and one of the many companies the former governor is accused of buying shares in with stolen public funds. A very reliable source at the EFCC, who disclosed the late_evening raid by operatives in Lagos, however, noted that Ajisebutu was not arrested by the Commission.
Before the ruling, the court heard the bail arguments of counsel. Taiwo Osopitan, SAN lead counsel for the defendant had urged the court to admit his client to bail as the offence he allegedly committed was not a capital offence and as such was bailable. He reminded the court that the law prescribes bail for an accused person based on the principle of presumption of innocence. He referred the court to sections 35 and 36 of the 1999 constitution which states that an accused person is presumed innocent until he has been proven guilty by a court of Law.
Referring to paragraph 6 of the supporting 25 point affidavit which he claimed contains condition for bail for the defendant as stipulated by the anti-graft agency, Osopitan said if the EFCC was not adverse to bail the court might as well exercise its discretion in favour of the accused person.
He also prayed the court to be liberal with the accused bail terms as he is not likely to jump. He prayed the court to grant the accused bail on self recognizance.
The former governor was arraigned before Justice Mabekoje on a 16 count- charge bordering on stealing and diversion of funds preferred against him by the EFCC. The ex_governor allegedly siphoned about N7 billion from the Ogun state treasury under sundry nebulous guises during his eight year rule as chief executive of the state.
The charge sheet against the former Ogun State governor, obtained by our correspondent, disclosed that he was accused of fraudulently converting $3million from Ogun State domiciliary account with First City Monument Bank to acquire equity stake in a private company, Glanvill Enthoven & Company Nigeria Limited; an offence which is punishable under section 390(4) of the Criminal Code Law CAP 29, Laws of Ogun State, 1978. He was also alleged to have fraudulently converted $1million from the Ogun State domiciliary account with FCMB to acquire shares in 21st Century Technology Limited.
The former governor was also alleged to have fraudulently converted the Judges Quarters in Sagamu to his personal use by building his private house known as Asoludero Court on the property and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 434 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP 29, Laws of Ogun State, 1978.
He also allegedly converted with intent to defraud, 2.011 hectares of land situate within the Secretariat Complex along IBB Boulevard, Abeokuta to the use of the Golf Place Resort Hotels Limited, a company where he has interest.
Daniel also allegedly converted several billions of naira from the statutory allocation to Ogun State Local Government councils to personal use.
When the charge was read to him, Daniel pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs urged the court to fix a date for the commencement of trial. However, lead defence counsel, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan told the court that they were just served the charge at the court premises and pleaded for time to file a bail application. Justice Mabekoje urged the prosecution to respond to the request of the defence counsel. Jacobs did not object to the request for a short break. Thereafter the court stood the matter down for about 30 minutes.
When it reconvened at about 10 am, counsel to the accused urged the court to admit his client to bail, stating that the offence which the accused was alleged to have committed was bailable. But counsel to EFCC objected. Jacobs told the court that having just received the bail application he needed time to study and respond to it. He therefore asked the court for an adjournment to Friday, 14th October, 2011.
Osipitan did not object but said he would crave the indulgence of the court to remand the accused person in EFCC custody as he was convinced that he would be well catered for. But EFCC counsel objected. He wondered while the accused who had demonized the anti_graft agency in media publications alleging mistreatment would now want to be remanded in its custody.
Osipitan feigned ignorance of any such publication but added that people were free to express their opinion. “My Lord I have not seen the publication or heard the broadcast he talked about. And if at all that happens, I think people have freedom of expression”.
After listening to the submission of both parties, the Judged adjourned the case to Friday, 14th October, 2011. He ordered that the accused person be remanded in the EFCC custody pending the determination of the bail application.
The atmosphere around the court was rowdy with supporters of the accused chanting of songs which prevented the Judge and other parties from hearing the proceedings properly.
Jacobs requested the Court to help improve the security situation before the next adjourned date, a request which was granted by the Judge.
Part of the charges against Daniel read that, “Otunba Justus Olugbenga Daniel on or about 31st March, 2010 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court whilst being the Executive Governor Ogun State fraudulently converted the sum of $1,000,000 (One Million UD Dollars) property of Ogun State Government domiciliary account with First City Monument Bank, which you used to acquire shares of Glanvill Enthoven & Company (Nigeria) Limited.”
“Otunba Justus Olugbenga Daniel on or about 8th April, 2010 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court whilst being the Executive Governor of Ogun State fraudulently converted an aggregate sum of $2,000,000 (Two Million Dollars) property of Ogun State Government being part of the funds deposited in the Ogun State Government’s domiciliary account with First City Monument Bank which you used to acquire shares of Glanvill Enthoven & Company (Nigeria) Limited.”
“Otunba Justus Olugbenga Daniel on or about 8th April, 2010 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court whilst being the Executive Governor of Ogun State fraudulently converted an aggregate sum of $1,000,000 ( One Million Dollars) property of Ogun State Government being part of the funds deposited in the Ogun State Government’s domiciliary account with First City Monument Bank which you used to acquire shares of 21st Century Technology Limited.