Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Absence Of Witnesses Stalls Daniel’s 5-Year-Old Trial

The five-year-old trial of former Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel, was stalled on Tuesday at the state high court in Abeokuta because the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, could not produce three witnesses scheduled to give evidence at the court.

The anti-graft agency told the court it had earlier on Monday held a pre-trial conference with the witnesses, and was shocked that they failed to turn up as appointed.

Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje had, at the last sitting of the court on Monday, directed the agency to bring all its witnesses to court.

The judge had reprimanded the prosecution for producing only one witness on that day, whose cross-examination ended around 11p.m.

EFCC’s lead counsel, Rotimi Jacob, who was represented by Adebisi Adeniyi, had promised to bring three more witnesses to court at the Tuesday resumed hearing.

But on Tuesday, Mr. Adeniyi said he was surprised that the witnesses failed to turn up, despite the meeting with them on Monday evening.

He pleaded with the court to give the prosecution time to investigate the circumstances surrounding the absence of the witnesses in court.

Mr. Adeniyi prayed for an adjournment to enable the prosecution put its house in order.

Counsel to the former governor, Ayo Osipitan, did not oppose the application.

He however reminded the court that the case has been on for five years and that 33 witnesses had given evidence.

Mr. Daniel was on October 12, 2011 arraigned on a 43-count charge of allegedly stealing and mismanaging about 7 billion as governor of the state.

On April 16, 2012, he was re-arraigned on 38-count charge for allegedly stealing and mismanaging N211.3 million, after the court dismissed the earlier case over failure of EFCC to seek the leave of
court to amend the information before the court.

The court has fixed November 4 and 11 for continuation of the trial.