COURT GRANTS DANIEL BAIL
Reprieve came the way of the former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, as an Ogun State High Court sitting in Abeokuta granted his bail application to the tune of N500 million.
This is coming at a time when the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) has raided the Victoria Island, Lagos office of the Mr. Wale Ajisebutu, managing director of 21st Century Technology Limited and a close associate of Daniel.
The former governor, who is standing trial on a 16-count charge of converted public land into personal use and failure to declare his assets was granted bail on self-recognition.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje, having listened to the arguments of the two counsels for and against the bail application, asked for a stand down at 11.50 a.m., for his ruling.
When the court resumed sitting, after about three hours stand-down, Mabekoje granted the accused person bail to the tune of N500 million and two sureties in like sum.
The judge also ordered that each of sureties must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court and must possess landed property within the jurisdiction of the court.
Before adjourning till November 17, 2011 for full commencement of the trial, Mabekoje also directed that the international passport of ex-governor Daniel should remain in the custody of the Commission.
Daniel, who arrived the court as early as 8.10am, ahead of the sitting slated for 11.00am, was dressed in light brown traditional attire with his matching traditional cap.
When the hearing commence, at exactly 11.00am, the lead counsel to the defendant, Professor Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), reminded the court that a bail application, dated October 12, 2011, was filed before the court. In the application, Osipitan said he had sought for his client's bail based on self-recognition or alternatively liberal terms.
EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, while opposing the application, told the court that a counter-affidavit, which contained 20-paragraph, had been filed before the court.
Jacobs admitted that the issue of bail was at the mercy of court, contending that it was not automatic that a judge should grant bail to a defendant. He noted that the allegations levelled against Daniel were weighty and, therefore, required the discretion of the court to grant bail or not.
Meanwhile, operatives of the EFCC yesterday stormed the office of 21st Century Technology Limited.
The EFCC had alleged, as part of the 16-count charge slammed against Daniel, during his arraignment before Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje of the Ogun State High Court, that a sum of 1, 000, 000 US dollars, being part of funds deposited by the state government in a domiciliary account with First City Monument Bank (FCMB), was traced to Ajisebutu's account.
Specifically, the money was allegedly used by Daniel to acquire shares of 21st Century Technology Limited, a telephone firm in which he failed to declare his interest.
Sources hinted that the raid on Ajisebutu's office was in furtherance of efforts by the EFCC to secure more vital evidence that could assist in the successful prosecution of the former Ogun State helmsman.
EFCC spokesman, Femi Babafemi, confirmed the development, but declined further comments.