ABEOKUTA – The absence of the lead counsel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC , Rotimi Jacobs in court on Monday stalled the resumption of the trial of the former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
Daniel is currently standing trial on a 38-count charge of alleged stealing, false declaration of assets and fraudulent conversion of lands.
At the resumed hearing of the trial at Ogun state High Court, sitting in Isabo,Abeokuta, Monday, one of the counsels of the EFCC, Tayo Olukotun informed the court that Jacobs was “unavoidably absent”.
It was however gathered that Jacobs who was one of the lawyers selected to be elevated to the position of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria was absent in court because he had gone for an interview scheduled for all those qualified for the exalted position.
At the last adjourned date penultimate Friday, a principal prosecution witness in the ongoing trial, Babatunde Adeluola, had denied that his life was threatened by the agents of the ex-governor.
Adeluola, a Business Development Manager with the Skye Bank Plc, had told Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje of the Abeokuta High Court during the continuation of the hearing of the corruption charges preferred against Daniel by the EFCC that his absence from court during the previous adjourned date was due to ill health and not threats from any one.
Following the arguments that ensued between the defence and the prosecution over the denial of threat to life by the prosecution witness, Justice Mabekoje had then ordered that the EFCC should formally report the matter to the police instead of wasting the time of the court on arguments and counter-arguments on the issue.
But at Monday’s hearing , the EFCC counsel, Olukotun tendered apology to the court on behalf of the commission’s lead counsel and appealed to the Presiding judge , Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje that the absence of Jacobs was not intentional and an act to waste the time of the court on the matter.
He therefore sought for adjournment till Thursday July 12,2012 for the continuation of the trial.
Reacting to the EFCC’s absence,one of Daniel’s counsel, Titilola Akinlawon (SAN) said that the lead prosecution counsel should have informed the court that through letter that he would not be available for the continuation of Daniel’s trial.
She however agreed with the commission’s counsel on the adjourned date saying”I expect that in the best practices of the profession, he (Jacobs) ought to have informed the court,” Akinlawon said.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Mabekoje therefore adjourned the matter till next Thursday for the continuation of the ex-governor’s trial.