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EFCC: Daniel loses Bid to stop charges

An Ogun State High Court yesterday dismissed an application filled bythe former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel seeking to

stop further proceedings on the on-going trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

 

The former Governor had, through his counsels, filed an applicationseeking an order of court to strike out count 1 – 13 of the 38 count

charge before the court which borders on alleged fraudulent conversion by trustees, land and landed properties of Ogun state.

The former governor has also, alternatively, sought the order of thecourt to stay further proceedings on the said counts pending the

determination of a case before a Sagamu High Court in suit numberM/74/2012.

 

He also asked the court to also give an order adjourning the trial onthe said counts indefinitely pending the determination of the case

before Sagamu High Court where the former Governor is challenging the findings on the Ogun State Judicial Commission of Inquiry on land

matters.

Daniel, through his lead counsel, Professor Taiwo Osipitan had argued that the constitution of the commission and the subsequent publication

of its findings will compromise the defendant’s entitlement to fair hearing.

 

It was further argued that the applicant has been adjudged guilty by the findings of the commission which, according to him will have or

likely have effect on the applicant’s right to fair hearing in the case.

Osipitan further told the court that the State government acted in contempt of the court by setting up a panel on inquiry to adjudicate

on a matter that was already before a competent court of jurisdiction.

 

In his ruling yesterday, Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje opined that the commission on Inquiry which was set up based on the Commission of

Inquiry Law of Ogun State, 2006 was just a commission and not a tribunal or court of law.

 

Mabekoje said the commission’s activities was regulated by its terms of references and as such could not be equated to a tribunal or a

court of law adding that its findings cannot be said to be conviction or judgment

On the ground that the continuous hearing on the counts will amount to double jeopardy on the side of the applicant, the Judge posited that

the position was totally misconceived and equally rejected ‘because the accused person has not been tried or convicted by any law court’.

 

On the alleged abuse of court process, the Justice Mabekoje said it was an improper use of judicial process adding that what the court is

to determine is the criminality or otherwise of counts 1 – 13.

He added that the setting up of a commission of inquiry by the state government was done pursuant to an existing law of the state and that

it can never amount to abuse of court process.

 

He further held that Ogun State government could not be said to have acted in contempt of the court saying that the commission of inquiry

was set up before the information was filled before the court.

He said that it will be erroneous to argue that the applicant has been adjudged guilty in the instant case since the matter has not be

adjudicated upon by any competent court of law.

 

“Since the applicant has also made an attempt at a court of coordinated jurisdiction to quash the findings of the Commission of Inquiry, it is my view that the findings and the said publication has no effect on this court.

“The issues dealt with by the commission are different from the live case before this court and there is no justifiable evidence to support

the argument that the publication is capable of causing double jeopardy on the applicant.

“There is no basis to the orders sought by the applicant and it will be unjust and unreasonable to grant the application, I therefore make an order dismissing the application,” the judge ruled.

 

Responding to the ruling, the counsel to the former Governor, Kunle Kalejaiye (SAN) hinted that the ruling will be studied ‘and if there

is any need for further action, we will do so’.

The EFCC lawyer, Adebisi Adeniyi said that the anti-graft agency will now have the opportunity to further present its witnesses in the next

adjourned date.

The case was later adjourned till 22nd February and March 1st forfurther hearing.

 

AmarSim Associations Development Consultants

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