ABEOKUTA – Trial of the former Ogun State governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, formally began yesterday at the Ogun State High Court, Abeokuta, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, showing how cash were allegedly deposited into one of his company’s, Blue Chapel’s, account.
This came as the trial judge, Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje, reserved ruling on the admissibility of a bank statement tendered by Daniel’s counsel, Professor Taiwo Osipintan, SAN, to deflate the evidence of the prosecution witness, Mr. Ade Babatunde.
Babatunde, a Business Development Manager with Skye Bank Plc, was the one that gave a purported graphic account of how fund was deposited in Daniel company’s account.
Daniel was re-arraigned on April 15, 2012 by EFCC on a 38-count charge bordering on breach of trust, fraudulent conversion of public landed property to personal use and failure to declare his assets truthfully and stealing over N211 million.
When the matter came up, counsel for EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, led Babatunde in evidence over the alleged illegal lodgments of some money by some individuals into Blue Chapel company account belonging to the ex-governor .
Babatunde, in his evidence, who said Daniel’s company opened its account with Skye Bank in 2004 before he joined the bank in 2007, said over N200 million was transferred into the company’s account, stressing Daniel was the sole signatory to the account, but, did not lodge any money himself either in cash or in cheque into the account.
Jacobs had tendered a certified true copy of Blue Chapel statement of account which was not objected to by Daniel’s lead counsel and was admitted as Exhibit 1 by the court.
However, attempt by Osipitan to tender from the Bar a copy of the statement of same account extracted from the proof of evidence, which he was said contradicted the one tendered by EFCC was resisted by EFCC’s counsel saying, it was not admissible in law.
Osipitan, while cross- examining the witness, asked Babatunde to compare a statement of account in the proof evidence and Exhibit 1, insisting that there were contradictions in the statements of account.
He also argued before the court that most of the money allegedly deposited were probably paid into the company’s account by customers.
Babatunde, however, confirmed that the two statements of account were genuine, prompting Osipitan to seek to tender it but the EFCC counsel objected to it on the ground that he did not follow due process in tendering documents.
According to Osiptan, ”the document emanated from the prosecution and it was the basis with which he sought the leave of court. So, if the prosecution counsel now comes around and said, it is not genuine, it means he forged the document.
Osipitan, in his submission, urged the court to allow the document, describing it as public document.”
In his objection, Jacobs, who quoted several authorities including sections 84 and 89 of the Evidence Act, described it as computer- generated document, which, according to him, could not be admissible.
After listening to the parties, the judge reserved ruling till June 5, while fixing June 7, 2012 for continuation of trial.