By DAUD OLATUNJI
ABEOKUTA—THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Monday, re-arraigned former governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State on a 38-count charge of stealing public funds, bribery, fraudulent conversion of public property and false declaration of assets.
EFCC alleged that the former governor stole N211.3 million between 2004 and May 29, 2011 and also converted government’s land in various parts of the state to his family’s use.
It said the house of the former governor in Sagamu (Asoloduro Court) was built on government land while his Conference Hotel in Ijebu-Ode was also built on land meant for judges’ quarters.
The commission also said that the Westerner Newspaper allegedly owned by Daniel, was built on government land on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
It noted that acts of stealing and bribery were carried out through companies that the former governor either owned or had interests in.
The companies, according to EFCC, included Kresta Laurel, Conference Hotel, GLD Consults, Silver Springs Investments, Millennium Parks and Master line company.
EFCC noted that Daniel also failed to declare his assets and interests in GLD Consults Limited, Millennium Parks Limited, Silver Springs Limited and Conference Hotels Limited.
It argued that the offences were contrary to and punishable under Sections 439, 393, 434 of the Criminal Code Laws of Ogun State, 2006.
It contended that the offences were also punishable under Section 27 (b) (3) and Section 10 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Act No 5 of 2000.
The lead defence counsel, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, informed the court that he had filed an application for bail dated April 10, adding that this was supported by a 27-paragraph affidavit.
He also told the court that his team had received a counter- affidavit from EFCC opposing the bail application.
Oyetibo said a reply as well as written address had been filed to the counter-affidavit in the defence prayer for bail of the former governor.
He dismissed all the grounds on which EFCC was opposing the bail application, describing it as gross abuse of court process and an infringement of his client’s fundamental human rights.
He said: “The purpose of bail is to make sure that the accused person turns up for prosecution; we submit with all sense of responsibility that the accused person has the right to bail. “
In his response, EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, said he would rely on the 22-paragraph counter-affidavit deposed to by one Danladi Yatah in opposing the bail application.
He argued that the death of Apagun Olumide Oluwole, a prosecution witness, was another reason for opposing the bail application.
He said: “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 UK for a business meeting. We asked him to come back on Monday with written application and the man died mysteriously on that same day that he came to our office; that is enough reason for our fear. All our witnesses are expressing concern over their lives and we are saying that granting the bail will make them to be jittery; we pray that the application is refused.”
Ruling on the application, however, the presiding judge, Olanrewaju Mabekoje, granted Daniel bail in the sum of N500 million with two sureties in like sum. The sureties must be resident in Ogun State and also show proof of visible means of livelihood.
They must also submit two passports photograph each while the international passport of the accused should be in the custody of EFCC.
The court ruled that the accused should be remanded in prison custody until all the conditions for bail are perfected.
The case was adjourned till May 7 for trial.