An Ogun State High Court sitting at Isabo, Abeokuta this morning remanded the former governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, till Friday after he was arraigned for alleged fraud.
He was brought to court in a white Toyota Coaster bus with registration number Abuja BR 737 BWR.
Daniel is standing trial before the court on a 16-count charge ranging from failure to declare his assets, alleged conversion of public funds to personal use, etc.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs told the court that Daniel’s counsel was served the 304-page document that contained the 16-count charge.
Responding, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan, SAN, who led other lawyers for Daniel’s defence, pleaded with the court to grant him a 30-minute stand down to enable him study the document and discuss with his client.
His plea was granted at 9.30 a.m. The court went on recess and resumed at 10 a.m.
On resumption, the charge was read to Daniel and he pleaded not guilty.
The former governor was charged with stealing, contrary to Section 390 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Ogun State of Nigeria, 1978.
Daniel was also docked for alleged conversion of public funds to his personal use contrary to Section 434 of the Criminal Code, Cap. 29 Laws of Ogun State, 1978.
One of Daniel’s counsel, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, said he had filed an application dated 12 October for the bail of the former governor.
EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Jacobs confirmed getting a copy of the bail application but said he needed time to study it to enable him file a counter affidavit.
He suggested adjournment of the case till Friday.
Daniel’s counsel agreed with the date. He also pleaded with the court that the former governor be remanded in EFCC custody.
Counsel to EFCC called the attention of the court to a publication in the print and electronic media that Daniel had been maltreated since he was in their custody since 6 October.
The counsel denied the allegation, describing the publication as the handiwork of Daniel’s publication.
Osipitan observed that EFCC spokesman, Femi Babafemi has been engaged in press trial of Daniel through his statements published in newspapers.
The counsel urged the court to restrain Babafemi from further press trial since the matter is now in court.
EFCC’s counsel responded by saying that he knew Babafemi and that he could not do anything to jeopardise the case.
The trial judge, Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje told EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Jacobs to have a word with Babafemi.
On the security at the court premises, EFCC’s counsel described the situation as worrisome, saying the case was not political but a criminal case.
“This is a criminal case holding in a serious court. We should not be celebrating criminality. I want this honourable court to order the accused person to stop hiring crowd to the court.”
Earlier, there was a rowdy scene at the court premises as supporters of Daniel confronted his antagonists.
While the anti-Daniel crowd chanted “OGD, Ole”, “jail OGD” or “kill OGD”, his supporters, confronted them and it almost resulted in a commotion.
An aide to Daniel, Dickson confronted the former Police Public Relations Office in Ogun State, ASP Femi Awoyale, who fought back by ordering policemen to arrest him. Dickson was later whisked away.
Justice Mabekoje adjourned the case till Friday, 14 October, 2011.