…DANIEL MAY SPEND WEEKEND IN EFCC CUSTODY
Embattled former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, may spend another weekend in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as the warning strike embarked upon by the Ogun State chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) threatened his bail application today.
Daniel is currently standing trial over 16-count charge of stealing, fraudulent conversion of state assets to personal use and non-declaration of assets.
Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje had adjourned sitting till today after counsel to the accused, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) told the court that he had filed bail application for Daniel, which the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs agreed should be heard today.
But the seven-day warning strike, embarked on by workers in the state enters its third day today.
The workers are protesting what they described as inhuman treatment of their members, alleged illegal deductions of 300 per cent tax from their salaries and other illegal deductions, which they claimed were not remitted to the appropriate quarters.
The strike may prevent the presiding Judge, Justice Mabekoje, to hear the bail application brought by Daniel's lawyers, led by Professor Taiwo Osipitan, as the state judicial workers expressed their support to the strike.
Operating under the aegis of Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the workers said they support the industrial action after the state NLC had exhausted all available meaningful negotiations with the state government to stop the deductions.
Chairman of JUSUN, Ogun State chapter, Mr. Sina Adesanya told Daily Sun that if the 'strike continues the case cannot come up until the end of the strike.'
He also ruled out any special consideration for the trial saying; ''we are also part of the NLC and none of us (JUSUN members) would be on ground as all of us must stay at home'.
Amid allegations of threats and intimidation by the state government, chairman of the state NLC, Mr. Akeem Ambali urged workers in the state to remain resolute in the struggle saying that the seven-day warning strike would continue except the government meets the workers' demands.
As at yesterday, Ambali and the Secretary of the state NLC, Charles Njoku, were said to have gone underground following alleged threat to their lives.
Speaking from his hideout, the NLC chairman vowed that the strike would continue. 'Ogun labour leaders insist on the seven-day warning strike and we want to enjoin our members to disregard any form of propaganda from the state government and its agents until government accedes to workers requests.'
The strike has paralyzed government activities while public secondary schools and state-owned tertiary institutions remained shut.
Students of public primary and secondary schools were seen returning home as early as 8.25 a.m, yesterday while the state secretariat Oke-Mosan was deserted. Many teachers, who had earlier reported for duties, were sent back home by monitoring officials of the NLC. When Daily Sun visited High Court and Magistrate Court, located at Isabo area of Abeokuta, the state capital, yesterday, activities were at lowest ebb as most of the workers complied with the NLC's directive.
The state-owned broadcasting stations, Ogun Radio, and television stations maintained skeletal services to the public as a result of the strike.
If the court eventually fails to sit, the embattled former governor may have to spend the weekend in the EFCC custody.