Abeokuta — An Abeokuta High Court sitting in Isabo, yesterday, struck out an application by former Governor Gbenga Daniel, seeking to quash part of charges leveled against him by the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Daniel, who is facing a 38-count charge on fraudulent conversion of land and diversion of public fund, was arraigned October 15,2012 by EFCC.
In his bid to stop part of the charges, Daniel, through his lead counsel, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan, had on April 2, 2012, filed an application urging the court to strike out counts 1-13 of the 38 charges whichrelate to fraudulent conversion of various plots of land belonging to the state.
At yesterday proceeding, one of Daniel's counsels, Kunle Kalejaiye, argued that a commission of inquiry set up by Ogun State government in September 2012 had already indicted Daniel over the same issues.
He argued that the publicity of a white paper by the government through which it accepted the recommendations of the commission would affect a fair trial of Daniel's case.
The lawyer argued that subjecting his client to another round of trial on the same charges would amount to double jeopardy.
But in his ruling, the Presiding judge, Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje, disagreed with Daniel's submission, saying that a judicial commission of inquiry could not be elevated or equated to the status of a court of law.
According to him, "The mere fact that the accused person has been indicted does not mean he has been convicted of the crime. There is no justifiable evidence to support argument that the publication is capable of causing double jeopardy."
Findings should not be allowed against anybody in any criminal or civil law. The issue is dealt with by the Commission is different from the issue before the court. An indictment by a Commission of Inquiry does not amount to conviction. The accused person was not tried for criminal offences. Only a court of law can try an accused for criminal charges."
He therefore held that Daniel was liable to prosecution to determine his culpability or otherwise in respect of the charges.
Mabekoje who struck out the application however gave assurance that the decision of the Commission of Inquiry would not jeopardize Daniel's right to fair hearing subsequently adjourned the case to
February 22 and March 1for continuation of trial.