THE Federal High Court, Abuja Division yesterday remanded former Pensions Director at the office of the Head of Service, Dr. Sani Shuaibu Teidi in prison custody pending its decision on his bail application fixed for May 9, 2012. He is being tried for allegedly diverting about N439 million pension fund.
This followed Teidi’s re-arraignment on a fresh four-count charge of money laundering preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) upon the withdrawal of the initial charge filed against him and seven others. Yesterday at the arraignment, Prosecuting Counsel Godwin Obla withdrew the initial charge filed against Teidi and seven others. In the new count, Teidi was charged alongside four companies, Badawalu Ventures Limited, Ebunu Attah Investment, Muha Millenium Motors Limited and Riba-Ile Petroleum Limited.
He allegedly conspired to convert N399,000,000 to purchase Brifina Hotels Limited, located at Plot 1106 Cadastral Zone B02 Durumi District Area 1, Abuja. Teidi is similarly alleged to have conspired with the companies to convert N40,000,000 to renovate Brifina Hotels. In Abeokuta yesterday, the trial of former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel over allegations bordering on corruption during his eight-year tenure began at a High Court, six months after his arrest.
The trial Judge, Justice Olanrenwaju Mabekoje adjourned the case to June 5 and 7 for the continuation of the trial. Mabekoje however explained at yesterday’s proceedings that he would on June 5 give a ruling on whether a statement of accounts tendered by the prosecution in their proof of evidence could be tendered by the defence counsel.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting the former governor over 38 charges, including an alleged stealing, fraudulent conversion of various state-owned and individual land for his personal use, false declaration of assets and receiving gratification from Aron Nigeria Limited, a major contractor who handled most of the state contracts during Daniels’ tenure. The EFCC initially slammed 43 charges against Daniel when he was arrested in October but were later reduced to 38.
The said statement of account became the subject of strong arguments by both the plaintiff (EFCC) lead counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs and the lead counsel of Daniel, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan on whether the statement of account should be admitted in court as an exhibit or not. Osipitan is leading 14 other lawyers, including four Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
Meanwhile, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of an Ikeja High Court yesterday threatened to strike out the N35. 5 million stealing charge preferred against the son of the late politician, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, Deji by EFCC because of its failure to produce its witness in court. Justice Onigbanjo who sounded a strong warning to EFCC said that it would only grant them adjournment on the ground that they would produce their witness in the next adjourned date.
EFCC had sought a short adjournment instead of calling its first prosecution witness, a move that infuriated the judge. The court had on March 12 fixed Monday for the commencement of the trial in the case after Onigbanjo dismissed an application by Deji seeking the quashing of the one count of stealing about N35.5 million preferred against him by the EFCC. Responding to the request for adjournment, the judge said: “The date of adjournment is sacrosanct in this court. You cannot ask for an adjournment without cogent reason.
“If you are not going to continue with the case today, I’m going to discharge the accused person and when you are ready to prosecute him you can bring him back.” The EFCC counsel, Mr. A. Adebola had earlier told the court that the prosecution would not be able to continue with the case on the grounds that its first witness, who was said to be the investigating officer of the case, had been transferred to Enugu.
The commission’s counsel had also asked the court to vacate an adjournment which had earlier been fixed for May 16, on the basis that he would be away for an appeal case on that same day. The judge noted he would no longer tolerate such adjournment because, “it will mess up the court’s diary. You cannot make me to have this matter on my list when you know you are not ready to prosecute. If you are not ready to prosecute, I would discharge the defendant for you to go and refile your case. “
Adebola, however, said, it was the plan of the prosecution to commence its case with the investigating officer.
The court subsequently adjourned the trial till May 16, 2012.