The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday, December 5, 2014 presented another set of witnesses in the trial of a former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
Daniel is being prosecuted on a 38-count charge of stealing public funds, bribery, fraudulent conversion of public property and false declaration of assets to the tune of N211.3million.
At the last adjourned date Thursday December 4, 2014, prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, had presented a witness, Mr. AJibola Kaka, who is the legal representative of one Mr. Adeniyi Adenuga whose land was appropriated by the former governor.
In his testimony, Kaka explained to the court how his client, Adenuga called him, sometime in 2004 to tell him that he received a letter from the Bureau of Lands and Survey, inviting him for a meeting with the Surveyor General.
The outcome of the meeting was that the government wanted to use his client’s land in Government Reservation Area, GRA, Sagamu for public purpose and that the government will relocate his client to a nearby land.
“My client later called to tell me that he was satisfied with the land re-allocated to him, but much later, he told me that he was not given a letter of allocation. At that instant, I advised him to fence the land and also complained to the Bureau which he did. However, after the fence was constructed, some people came into the land and started erecting a structure, a twin duplex apartment.
“At that point when my client told me of the development, I advised him to go and put a gate but he was stopped by the same people constructing the apartment. Eventually, some people from the press met me, requesting for an interview regarding the property and I told them what I knew about it”, he said.
Consequently, Kaka said his client called him again, telling him that he was invited by the Bureau regarding the interview he granted to the press and asked Kaka to represent him in the meeting. At the meeting, Kaka said that a fresh offer of another land was made to his client. The offer was accepted but compensation was demanded for the fence already constructed on the initial land allocated to Adenuga.
“Mr Akogunu and I agreed on a payment of N2, 500,000 (Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira Only) as compensation to my client which was paid to me in cash,” Kaka said.
When asked by Jacobs whether the initial land was used for public purpose as stated by the Bureau, Kaka said he discovered that the land was used to build a personal house for the former governor.
The defense counsel, Professor Taiwo Osopitan, SAN, while cross examining the witness asked him, whether he was instructed by his client to come and give a testimony. Jacob quickly came in and stressed that his testimony was proper and legal. Justice Olarenwaju upheld the prosecution’s argument, saying that the witness is a witness of the state. Justice Olarenwaju discharged the witness and Mrs. Bolanle Ayunuga was invited by Jacob as his second witness.
Mrs. Ayunuga, former Head, Revenue Section of the Bureau of Lands and Survey, in her testimony, disclosed that she was in charge of the preparation of weekly and monthly revenue report and supervision of revenue staff.
She said sometime in 2012, operatives of the EFCC came to her office, requesting for evidence of payment in respect of Mr. and Mrs. G. O Daniel, Aron Nigeria Limited, Gateway Foundation and others she could not remember.
She said after going through their record, she could only find evidence of registration payment and Administrative charges but the evidence of premium capital contribution and survey were not there.
Justice Olarenwaju, after listening to all the testimonies, adjourned proceedings to Friday December 5, 2014.
At the resumed hearing today, Jacobs presented two more witnesses: Christopher Olusanjo Oyebade and Meojuola Oladimeji Baderinwa, who work with the Bureau of Land and Survey, Abeokuta and Sagamu Zonal Office respectively.
The first witness, Oyebade, a retired Assistant Surveyor General, was the Principal Technical Officer in Abeokuta Zonal Office at the time the alleged offence was committed.
He explained to the court that sometime in March 2004 the then Surveyor General sent him on assignment to Sagamu Zonal office, where he carried out survey on a parcel of land at Sagamu GRA as instructed.
Exhibit 13 was shown to the witness and he identified it as the 1.6 hectares of land he was asked to survey but denied any knowledge of the original owner of the land when asked by Jacobs.
Asked whether there was any building on the land at the time he carried out the survey, the witness said there was a dual perimeter fence on the property and beacons at the boundaries which showed that a survey had already been executed on the land.
The witness also denied receiving any payment in respect of the survey.
The second prosecution witness, Baderinwa who was the Zonal Surveyor in the Sagamu office of the Bureau, from 2009 to 2012, while explaining what transpired in 2012, disclosed that sometime in 2012 he was accompanied by operatives of EFCC to Sagamu for inspection and identification of some property in Sagamu GRA but could not remember their exact location.
He further revealed that after they identified the land, EFCC operatives requested for composite plan of the property. “The composite plan comprise of a number of plots. I later subdivided the contents of the plots and revealed the plots as they were before being merged to become one”, he told the court.
The witness was shown the Sagamu Master Plan as well as the composite plan of the lands for identification. They were eventually tendered in evidence by the prosecution and marked as exhibit 57 and 58 respectively.
Mr. Baderinwa further told the court that exhibit 58 shows that Plots 1a, 1b, 1c were merged together with plot 12, NEPA quarters and another piece of land that was supposed to be a road going by the master plan, to become one Plot.
When asked by the prosecuting counsel if it is normal practice in his profession to conduct a survey on a road, he answered, NO!
He also confirmed that the content of exhibit 58 (The composite plan) distorted the master plan of Sagamu.
During cross examination, the Defense counsel asked the witness if he knew about the revised version of the Ogun State master plan, to which he answered, no.
The defense counsel then requested the court for adjournment in order to produce the revised version of the master plan.
Justice Olrenwaju adjourned the case to 16th January, 4thand 5th February 2015 for continuation of trial.
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