Court orders EFCC to release Daniel’s passport

FORMER governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, yesterday got the permission of an Abeokuta High Court to collect his international passport from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to enable him travel to the United Kingdom for medical treatment.

The passport was seized by the anti-graft commission when Daniel was arrested in October last year over an allegation bordering on fraudulent practices during his eight-year tenure. He was facing a 38-count charge.

The trial continued yesterday with the second witness, Mrs. Omolara Abiodun Akiode, testifying before Justice Olanrenwaju Mabekoje. Akiode is a banker with the Finbank, Allen Avenue branch, Lagos.

She was led in evidence by the EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs and cross-examined by a counsel on the defence team, Mrs. Anthonia Titilola Akinlawon.

Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) is leading other 16 lawyers to defend Daniel. The other SANs on the defence team are Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, Kunle Kalejaiye and Mrs. Akinlawon.

At yesterday’s sitting, Jacob (prosecution counsel) requested that the court should “grant him protection” from Daniel’s supporters whose noisy behaviour during proceedings, he said, was becoming unacceptable, was granted by Mabekoje. The judge pledged that as from the next sitting, policemen would be brought to the court-room to ensure that they comport themselves during proceedings.

Justice Mabekoje’s order to release the passport followed a motion on notice filed by the defence team, praying the court to release the travel document to enable their client travel for “urgent medical attention”.

Attached to the application was a 24-paragraph affidavit and a medical report from the defendant’s doctor.

The prosecution counsel (Jacobs) did not oppose the application. He explained that in the interest of justice for both parties, he had agreed that Daniel should use the period of the legal year and judges’ conference, which falls between September and October, to treat himself.

Angered by what he described as intermittent noise by Daniel’s supporters who troop to the court on any sitting day, Jacobs told Justice Mabekoje: “My lord, I think we need protection in this court. Let them (Daniel supporters) go back to politics and leave the courts alone. Let them go and look for jobs to do.”

In response, Justice Mabekoje promised to look into it (request), pledging that as from the next adjournment date, “two or three policemen” would be brought in to ensure the supporters comport themselves.

Mrs. Akiode had earlier testified that she managed an account, Masterline Investment and Properties Ltd, at her bank, Finland.  She said the account into which a total sum of N29 million was deposited at various times was owned by one J.O. Daniel, an engineer, who was the sole signatory to the account opened in 2000.

The case was adjourned to October 16, 25 and 26 for continuation of trial.

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