The former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has opened up on his prosecution by EFCC in the past eleven years, after his eight years as governor in the State.
Otunba Daniel stated this on Sunday at a Special Thanksgiving service and maiden Choir Festival organized by Asiwaju of Remo Christians held at the Abraham Tabernacle, Sagamu, Ogun state.
The Ex-governor said he was surprised that inspite of his service to the people, some people unknown to him called for his prosecution in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
It would be recalled that, the former governor was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in October, 2011 over several allegations, one of which was as a result of his purchase of properties in the UK.
In a petition written by the former chairman of Ijebu-East local government area in Ogun State, Mr. Tunde Oladunjoye, now the APC Publicity Secretary in Ogun state, Daniel reportedly distributed N738 million out of their N1.8bn to the 20 councils from their November 2009 allocation from the federation account.
The 11years legal battle ended on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 as the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan discharged and acquitted him on all 15 charges leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Yargata Nimpar, who read the judgment, found merit in the eight issues brought to the court by the ex-Ogun governor against the EFCC and acquitted Mr. Daniel on all counts.
Ms. Nimpar described the prosecution as malicious stating that the anti-fraud agency should not make use of state fiat to prosecute a governor for an action protected by federal legislation like the Land Use Act as it empowers the governor to allocate land to all Nigerians, including churches and for all purposes.
The court also noted that Mr. Daniel was tried in Abuja for a supposed crime purportedly committed against Ogun, as such the trial court lacked jurisdiction to try him.
Daniel described the victory as God’s doing saying, the judiciary has proven to be the last succour for common man in the country.
He noted that, despite pressure from some quarters to jail him, the judiciary remained firm and refused to succumb to pressure.
“One thing I am sure of is that I’m not a saint, but I did everything right to the best of my knowledge. For instance, the land on which this church is built, was on count 3 of the charges against me, I don’t know who the complainant is, the land was paid for, the church is not for profit, the church has been running for eleven years and was donated to the Baptist Convention. So, what’s my duty as Governor, to help people where necessary.
“Let me end this thanksgiving by saluting the judiciary. I have strong belief that the judiciary being the last chance of a common man is the only succour that our country continues to have.
“I am praising the judiciary today that, despite the challenges they have, the difficulties they have encountered because it is not easy to decide who is wrong or who is right in our country, but for the judiciary to stand and decipher and come to this kind of judgment they gave, I want to dedicate this thanksgiving for them. They failed to succumb to pressure.
“You know the judiciary is in various levels. The lower level, the middle level and the top most level. And I think it’s a good system, because if the lower level the perception is not correct, the other levels can correct it. For instance, if you look at the thoroughness of the judgement in my own case, I continue to wonder how some of those judges were able to read.
“The lesson therein for me is that there is still hope for Nigeria in all ramifications. Things are not particularly exciting, but I think there are still people in our country who are thorough and we just must continue to hope that things will get better.
“Our investigation agencies, don’t tend to finish the work before they rush to court, so, most of the time, they went to court sensationally. We have to run against the perception of the people, so, it was a tough job for the judiciary.”