A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has declared that he has forgiven those behind his trial which lasted 11 years.
Daniel, who bared his mind while speaking with newsmen at the sidelines of the maiden edition of Asiwaju of Remo Christians Choir Festival and Thanksgiving Service, held at the Abraham Tabernacle, Sagamu, commended the judiciary for doing a thorough job.
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division, had on April 12, discharged and acquitted the former governor of all 15 charges levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Yargata Nimpar, who read the judgement, found merit in the eight issues brought to the court by the ex-Ogun governor against the EFCC and acquitted Daniel on all counts, ending an eleven-year-old litigation against the former governor.
Ms Nimpar described the prosecution as malicious, stating that the anti-graft agency should not make use of state fiat to prosecute a governor for an action protected by federal legislation like the Land Use Act as it empowers the governor to allocate land to all Nigerians, including churches and for all purposes.
Reacting to the judgement, Daniel said the judgement had vindicated him and proved his innocence in corruption allegations that never took place while he was in office.
He explained that though he became worried at a stage when the trial was ongoing because of the “Nigerian factors”, his firm belief in Nigerian judiciary as the last hope of common man kept him going.
Daniel who noted that the 11-year trial was unnecessary in the first place, reiterated that he had forgiven those who orchestrated the phoney corruption allegation against him.
He added that most of those behind his travail are now his friends as he decided not to be vindictive, but give thanks to God for seeing him through the “political persecution”.
“Though I’m not a saint; I did everything right to the best of my knowledge. The land on which this church is built was my Count 3 or 4. How would you say I steal this? I don’t understand it and I don’t know who the complainant is. The land was paid for, the church is not for profit, we donated the church back to the Baptist Convention and they’ve been running it for 11 years, and that’s a charge for me? And I have to go through all of this?
“Another one is for the Church of the Lord in Ogere where we gave them land to build a university, how do we turn around the country if we don’t encourage this sort of thing? What is my responsibility as a governor? I’m supposed to look at areas where people need support, where people need help and help them.
But the perception is that everybody is taking money. If we want something, will we take money from the church? So, that’s our 10th count. I think at the beginning, that was count 10 or 11. So, these are the sort of things that I had to face and quite honestly, I felt God would vindicate me. But there are certain times that I also get worried because when you see what is happening, you wonder.
“I think the tragedy is that in whatever we do, we must not write it such that every single person is a thief because there must be consequences for doing bad and there must be appreciation for doing right. So when you have a society where people who try to do right are the people that are more or less persecuted, then there is no incentive to do right. You know, that’s my own worry and I’m hoping the right lessons are learnt.
“To be honest with you, what can I do? All of them are forgiven. I’ve forgiven them all without exception. In fact, many of them are my friends. Today, most of them are now my friends. Let’s just give thanks to God”. Daniel stated.