Gbenga Daniel corruption trial: court orders probe of death threat to witness

An Abeokuta High Court, on Friday, ordered the police to conduct investigations into the alleged death threat on a principal witness in the on-going corruption trial against former Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel.

At a previous sitting, the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Jacobs, raised an alarm on the death text messages that were being sent to the witness.

The witness, Adeluola Babatunde, a Business Manager with Skye Bank, had earlier told the court that the account being used as evidence against Mr. Daniel was operated by the accused as sole signatory.

The witness, however, could not turn up for the subsequent hearing; he forwarded a medical report to the court that he was sick.

At that hearing, the EFCC said that the witness had become the suspect’s target of elimination. The EFCC then prayed the court to address the allegation.

But in response to the EFCC allegation and prayer, the accused lead counsel, Taiwo Osipitan, argued that “it was the commission that was after the life of the witness having realized he (witness) was not ready to cooperate with them (commission).”

Following the absence of the witness, as well as accusations and counter accusations from both parties, the court adjourned the case to Friday, June 29, 2012.

However at the resumption of hearing on Friday, the tiff between the accused and the prosecutor’s counsel began again when the witness was being cross – examined over the bank account statement.

The judge, Olanrewaju Mabekoje, listened with rapt attention for over three hours to the argument of both parties. He then ruled that the death threat should be investigated but should not serve as a delay in the original case.

Mr. Mabekoje also declared that the matter must be reported at the Ibara Police Station, Abeokuta. He over-ruled the objection by the accused counsel who said that the witness is incompetent and irrelevant to the trial.

The case was adjourned to July 12, 2012.

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