Witness in Daniel’s trial alleges threat to life
The resumption of the trial of former Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday was stalled by the failure of the leading prosecuting witness, Babatunde Adeluola, to appear in court.
Daniel is facing 38 counts of corruption, stealing, illegal diversion of state funds, as well as failure to declare assets during his tenure in office.
Adeluola, whose absence was attributed to health problems, also alleged threat to his life.
Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje of the Ogun State High Court IV, Isabo, Abeokuta therefore declared that Daniel’s trial could not continue until the witness appears in court.
Mabekoje on May 7 reserved ruling for Tuesday on the admissibility of the bank statement tendered by Daniel’s counsel, which the EFCC alleged was “computer generated”.
EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, told the court at the resumed hearing that Adeluola, the Principal Witness 1, who is also the Business Development Manager of Skye Bank Plc, could not appear in court because of the alleged threat messages he had received.
Jacobs said the principal witness, who is also the prosecution witness, had complained to the EFCC that unknown persons had sent threat messages to his phone, warning him that he would be killed if he came to court to give further evidence in the case.
The EFCC counsel also said the Investigating Police Officer told him that the prosecution witness declined to make statement or further public appearance, claiming that that would expose him to danger.
Jacobs added that the PW1, who had earlier agreed to appear in court on Tuesday after he was persuaded and assured, suddenly came up with a medical report, claiming that he was seriously ill.
According to the medical report presented to the court by the EFCC counsel, the PW1 was said to be “stooling (sic), suffering from headache, abdominal pain, high blood pressure, body pain” among other ailments.
Daniel’s counsel, Tayo Oyetibo, however, prayed the court to investigate the claims of alleged threat to life as well as the excuse of ill health by the PW1.
Oyetibo accused the EFCC of “developing cold feet” with their witness because he had not been co-operating with them.
Mabekoje, in his ruling, admitted the statement of account tendered by the defence counsel but dismissed the alleged threat to the life of the PW1.
The court also admitted the medical report for PW1 tendered by the prosecuting counsel.
He said, “The only official reason why he is not in court is that he is indisposed; it is my opinion that all the arguments of both counsel cannot be substantiated until the witness is given the opportunity to appear before this court to hear his own side.”
Stressing that the trial of the former governor could not go on, the judge adjourned the matter till o June 29, July 9 and 12 for the continuation of the case.