EFCC docks Ex-Ogun Gov Gbenga Daniel over Multi-Billion Naira Fraud
The immediate past governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel was on Wednesday, arraigned in the State High Court sitting at Abeokuta over allegation of stealing and fraudulent misapplication of state funds.
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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, 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.
According to the charge, the former governor 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:
“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 comverted the sum of $1,000,000 (One Million UD Dollars) property of Ogun State Government domiciliarr 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.