The trial of former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, on charges of criminal embezzlement of funds and diversion of properties and lands belonging to the Ogun State government, brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), resumed on Thursday at the Federal High Court, Abeokuta.
Mr. Daniels challenged the jurisdiction of court and sought to quash the charges preferred against him.
A statement from the anti graft agency and signed by its Acting head of Media & Publicity, Wilson Owujaren, also said the former governor, represented by Taiwo Osipitan, SAN, asked the court to quash the amended 43-count charge brought against Mr. Daniel by the EFCC, on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction.
In a motion supported by a 37-paragraph affidavit, Mr. Osipitan argued that the offences for which Mr. Daniel is being prosecuted were committed in Ogun State and as such, the Federal High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
But prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, brushed aside the argument of the accused as a ploy to delay trial.
“My learned friend has also said in the 37-paragraph affidavit that it is only Ogun State and Ogun State Local government that can complain or write a petition alleging that a crime has been committed against it,” Mr. Jacobs said. “My Lord this is a misconception of Law. It is also a misconception to say that the EFCC lacks the powers to prosecute this case. Anybody can be prosecuted by the EFCC, anybody can raise an allegation before anybody and the EFCC based on powers conferred on it by the Act establishing it has the powers to cause an investigation to be conducted.”
The trial judge, Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje, adjourned proceedings to Friday, January 20, 2012, for ruling on the motion to quash the charges against the accused.
In a related development, the chairman, Pensions Reforms Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, has disclosed that a whooping N151b fraud had been uncovered in pensions offices across the nation through the assistance and intervention of the EFCC. He stated this while on a courtesy visit to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde.
“The task team in conjunction with the EFCC traced and recovered a total of about N24billion and N15billion worth of properties from some corrupt government officials in the Office of the Head of Service Pension Department.
Sixty-six illegal bank accounts with N180million were also discovered,” he said.
Mr. Maina expressed appreciation to the EFCC for its role in achieving this feat.