Amosun’s Commission not Competent to Convict Daniel-Judge

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The Commission Of Inquiry On Land Matters And Associated Issues empanelled by Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun to probe into the land administration during the tenure of his predecessor is not competent to pronounce guilt on Otunba Gbenga Daniel. The proceedings of the commission and the white paper issued by the government cannot also be used in any court proceedings against Otunba Gbenga Daniel going by the extant law of the land. That was the pronouncement of Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje of the Abeokuta High Court while ruling on an application brought by the former Governor which asked the court to quash count 1 to 13 of the charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Justice Mabekoje who ruled that the counts would not be quashed said the commission of Enquiry  was merely a fact finding commission and does not have the power to  convict and as such the former governor would still get fair trial at High Court as the proceedings of the commission would not affect the ongoing trial . He said the decision of the commission amplified by the government through a white paper could not be properly be described as a conviction and the indictment passed by the commission was merely an accusation. He said the proceedings of the commission can not be equated to trial and conviction and as such the former governor has not been tried nor convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction on the issues which formed the basis of setting up the commission.

On December 14 2012 Tayo Oyetubo a senior advocate of Nigeria while moving the application told the court that the Ogun State Government was vilifying former Governor Gbenga Daniel by setting up a commission of Inquiry to probe land administration by his administration while at the same giving the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the fiat to try him for the same offence. He said the action showed that the Government was in a hurry to try and convict the respondent. Oyetubo said since the report of the commission had already been widely published and publicized it has put the court at the risk of condemnation whichever way it exercises its discretion on the charges in contention. Oyetibo therefore urged the court to strike out count 1to 13, stay proceedings on them or adjourn proceedings on them in the interest of fair hearing and acceptable legal norms.

Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacob countered by arguing that the Ogun State government was not a party to the proceedings and as such could not have committed any contempt. It said the commission of enquiry was set up in pursuant to the powers of state and the publicity given to the white paper would not affect the ongoing procedure at the high court.

Justice Mabekoje   who held that the trial should not exclude the 13 charges however assured that the respondent in the case would still get a fair trial in spite of the decision of the panel of enquiry and the white paper issued by the government.  The judge e whose ruling was saluted by Kunle Kalejaiye who led the defense team of Daniel and Adebisi Adeniyi of the EFCC for its erudition, later fixed further hearing in the case for February 22 and March 1, 2013



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