By Oluwasegun Abifarin
The pots of plots against the former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, OGD finally crashed recently when the Appeal Court sitting in Ibadan upheld the no-case submission by his lawyers in a corruption trial that has lasted over a decade.
The legal fireworks began at an Ogun State High Court on October 11, 2021 following charges bordering on criminal conversion and breach of trust preferred against the former governor the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Appeal Court dismissed the corruption charges against him and held amongst others that the former governor was being prosecuted for non-existent offences and for offences for which there was clearly no evidence to substantiate.
In the course of the trial, the EFCC called about 35 witnesses and tendered over 1000 documents as exhibits, at the close of the prosecution’s case.
The Defense Team filed a NO CASE SUBMISSION to the effect that the EFCC had no case against the defendant and that there was no evidence of wrong doing to prove an essential element in the alleged offence.
Even from the evidence of the prosecution, it was apparent the Prosecution’s case was fraught with manifest contradictions and not a single offence had been proved before the trial court. The case of the prosecution has been so discredited during cross-examination, and has made their whole witnesses manifestly unreliable.
The court upon listening to the submission ruled that the NO CASE SUBMISSION succeeds in part and dismissed 15 of the counts and asked the defendant to enter a defence for the 17 remaining counts.
Not satisfied with the ruling of the high court the Defendant was left with no further option than to appeal to the Court of Appeal sitting in the ancient city of Ibadan.
Upon hearing of the appeal, the Court of Appeal on the 12th of April 2022, the three (3)- Man panel unanimously ruled that the Appellant’s arguments in the NO CASE SUBMISSION were proper and correct and they upheld the appeal on the NO CASE SUBMISSION and struck out the remaining 17 counts of the charge.
According to Justice Yargata Nimpar, JCA, “The respondent’s argument raise more of a moral question and not criminal issues. WHAT IS AN OFFENCE CAN NOT BE DEFENDED, the land use act did not specify the purposes not authorized in land allocation, so how can the issue of trust create an offence from what the law did not create. As observed earlier there cannot be a hybrid of a state legislation latching a federal law to create an imaginary offence.”
Abba Bello Mohammed JCA held that: “What is apparent in this appeal is that the defendant was subjected to prosecution for non-existent offences and for offences for which there was clearly no evidence to substantiate. While lamenting this situation, I join in allowing this appeal and in discharging the defendant, in total concurrence with all the detailed reasoning and conclusions contained in the lead judgment of my learned brother Nimpar, JCA.”
The court concluded that: “All the court is required to do when a no case submission is made is to determine whether the evidence adduced by the prosecution is sufficient to warrant an explanation from the accused person.
“When the respondent did not present evidence in support of ALL the elements, the NO case submission should succeed, furthermore, where the evidence of the prosecution is “contradictory on any ingredient of a count, the No case submission should succeed.”
Aside the victory at the court, not a few stakeholders believe that Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD) will forever remain a blessing to the All Progressive Congress (APC) as Party in Ogun State in particular and to the good people of Ogun State in general.
Prior to the 2019 general elections, the chances of the APC maintaining her position as the ruling Party in Ogun State was threatened by the immediate past Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (SIA) who then openly declared his supports for the governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Hon. Adekunle Akinlade of Ogun West.
SIA worked vigorously for the APM governorship candidate and against the governorship candidate of the APC, Prince Dapo Abiodun who is now the incumbent Executive Governor of Ogun State.
The coming on board of OGD then saved the situation as he directed all his loyalists across Ogun State to work, vote and ensure that APC / Prince Dapo Abiodun won the 2019 governorship election.
Prince Dapo Abiodun won the 2019 Ogun State gubernatorial election with a margin less than 20, 000 votes. A lot of kudos then went to OGD for the marvelous role because the combination of Senator Ibikunle Amosun (SIA) and Hon. Ladi Adebutu of PDP was then strong enough to turn the table against the APC in Ogun State.
The tremendous contributions of Otunba Gbenga Daniel to the growth and development of Ogun East in particular and Ogun State in general always put him in the mind of the good people of Ogun State
The present Ogun State Secretariat at Okemosan Abeokuta, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, ICT Polytechnic Itori / Sapade / Ijebu Igbo, International Stadium Ijebu Ode / Sagamu / Ilaro, Ogere Trailer park, Petrol – Chemical Institute at Ogun Waterside, TRACE / unprecedented massive employment generation to mention but a few, were some of the OGD indelible and remarkable achievements as a successful Governor of Ogun State.