by Lekan Olanrewaju
Nigerian ex-governors can’t seem to avoid drama these days. Just as one former governor was yesterday handed a 13-year sentence in a UK court for crimes relating to fraud and money laundering, another was rearraigned on our own soil by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Former Ogun state governor, Gbenga Daniel was yesterday rearraigned by the EFCC on a 38-count-charge of stealing, bribery and corruption, false declaration of assets, among others.
The EFCC accused the ex-governor of leaving office with N211.3 million of public funds, as well as converting various pieces of government land for his personal use.
The commission reports that the fraudulent acts were carried out through various companies belonging to Gbenga Daniel, which include Kresta Laurel, Conference Hotel, GLD Consults, Silver Springs Investments, Millennium Parks and Master Line Company.
Lead counsel for the defense, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) stated that he had filed an application for bail which was supported by a 27-paragraph affidavit.
He also stated that the EFCC was opposing the application, and had sent a counter affidavit to his team.
He dismissed the opposition, saying it was within the rights of his client to seek bail.
“The purpose of bail is to make sure that the accused person turns up for prosecution” Oyetibo said. “We submit with all sense of responsibility that the accused person has the right to bail.”
Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs countered, saying that one of their reasons for opposing bail was that one of the prosecution witnesses, a certain Olumide Oluwole Apagun, had died mysteriously, and that had given them cause to worry.
“After Apagun had volunteered useful information that will help us in our prosecution, he came to our office on a Friday to ask for the release of his passport to enable him travel to the UK for a business meeting,” Jacobs said.
“We asked him to come back on Monday with a written application and the man died mysteriously on that same day that he came to our office; that it is enough reason for our fear. All our witnesses are expressing concern over their lives and we are saying that granting bail will make them jittery.”
The presiding judge, Olanrewaju Mabekoje, however granted the accused bail in the sum of N500 million and two sureties.
“The sureties must be resident in Ogun and also show proof of means of livelihood.” Judge Mabekoje said. “They must also submit two passports photographs each, while the international passport of the accused should be in the custody of the EFCC.”
“The accused should be remanded in prison custody until all the conditions for bail are perfected.” he continued. “The case is hereby adjourned till May 7 for trial.”