Otunba Gbenga Daniel, (OGD), is particularly not a happy man since he left Oke Mosan Government House as the executive governor of the Gateway State three and half years ago. This is as a result of several court cases he has been facing since then. The Engineer and founder of Krestal Laurel Company denied all the allegations leveled against him by Tunde Oladunjoye in his petition to EFCC when he spoke to Lanre Adisa, Deputy Editor of News of The People. Excerpts:
What led to your detention by EFCC?
You will appreciate these are criminal charges and when a matter is in court according to the laws of the land you can hardly comment otherwise they call it subjudice and this is an offence on its own. But one can pass a few comments in such a way that one is a little bit cautious. If you remember all the charges against me emanated from one man called Tunde Oladunjoye. Tunde became the Chairman of Ijebu East Local Government under my governorship. There was a crisis in Ijebu Ife, a Police commissioner, Omolodun was his name he was murdered in cold blood, l rushed there and l found out that he was not just murdered having been killed he was later burnt, l saw it with my two eyes. I was in Omu at a church service that fateful day, l remember l was sitting down beside Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in the church. I had to excuse him because l needed to go and see what was going on because the message kept on coming in. While l was on my way to the crisis spot l was also in touch the council boss (Tunde Oladunjoye) asking him if he was aware of the crisis and he replied me that he was already there and that there is no cause for alarm, that everything was okay, but when l got there, he was not there and not only that the whole town was in mayhem, the Kabiyesi said to me that once they killed the police commissioner the whole town was in trouble because he knew that before day break, police will act and wiped out the place as it were. So l moved in and l pleaded with the police and l did all what l had to do and l went round myself and l left my word that I’ve seen the number of houses that was burnt and now l hand over this place to you, l told the police guard that l saw there and am going to come the next day, if l see one more house burnt, it’s not the town it’s you, so that was how l saved the situation at ljebu lfe. It was that bad that we have to set up an enquiry and the enquiry indicted Tunde Oladunjoye and l had no choice than to remove him as the local government chairman, so that was the background with which he now felt that he could do something. He then wrote petition against me to EFCC, if you remember what was going on in Ogun State, the arrows were coming from all angles with the aids of some media houses. OBJ was firing his arrow, Dimeji Bankole (former Speaker House of Representatives) was firing his arrow and then somebody called Kashamu then came in too, he was also firing his arrow all at me. The offence l didn’t know. Once upon a time, there was a state called Ogun nobody went there, we all stayed in Lagos, l have my business here in Lagos, we all go to Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja etc. Abeokuta was not in anybody’s mind or dictionary. God gave us the grace, we went there, we opened the place and they all say eheeeen, so the battle started. That is the summary of what went wrong and it’s indeed an irony, however Oladunjoye’s 16 counts-charge petition stated that l stole three million dollars and that l also stole eight or nine million dollars of local government funds. This was news to me because I’ve been detained for 10 days and l was wondering what exactly had gone wrong, while l was in detention l boycotted newspapers, l didn’t read because l was annoyed by the time l came out of detention l saw that it was even #57billion that was reported that l stole, l was wondering, why, how, where. Anyway when they were not going to release me l then said l was going on hunger strike that if they had nothing to do with me, they should take me to court, the point was that as at the point of my arrest there was nothing against me, it was after l was arrested they started investigation. The law says within 24 hours or 48 hours you must give somebody a bail, you have been keeping me here for 10 days, for what, so take me to court, that was when l was brought to court with all these count charge and everybody celebrated that another governor, another thief has been caught. However l called my Finance commissioner and l said (Ogbeni wa lboni three billion dollars ti je yo) (Mister, where is this three billion dollars emanated from) he said they are crazy that there is no three billion dollars anywhere, infact it was $18 billion which was part of the debt recovered and the money was in First City Monument Bank, (FCMB), when we were broke on one occasion, you’ve forgotten that you authorized that l should change one million dollar to pay salaries and another two million dollars change to pay salaries, l don’t even know, they changed the money and credited us in our FCMB account, the dollar account was in FCMB, the naira account was in FCMB, it was a matter of saying FCMB, look, we have a challenge, could you change some money for us from our dollars with you. No dime came to anybody as gratification, l said give me the proof, he gave it to me not only was it changed, l checked the rate of exchange then whether there was any game, but there was none, the rate of exchange was what they used at the point in time. The tragedy we had at that time was that OGD must be nailed at all cost. When it became clear to EFCC that all the charges were false they have no option than to drop them. If somebody is a sworn enemy and wrote a petition, is there no weight you should put on the petition?
Can you comment on the allegation that you stole many plots of lands belonging to Ogun State?
Gov. Ibikunle Amosun set up his land inquiry, just to nail OGD. He has no evidence before he set up his land enquiry it was while the enquiry was on that he started looking for evidence to indict me, in the process they stumbled on documents and got in touch with one of the lawyers who has been registering companies for me for over twenty years. They said this and that company was registered by OGD, he didn’t declare it, l said which company, there were some companies that l just registered and have not done any business with them, l don’t even remember they existed, those were his allegations. This lands inquiry issue was highly celebrated that l’ve stolen all the land belonging to Ogun State.
It was further alleged you stole so much money in your eight years tenure that you are afraid to declare your assets in order to evade prosecution on the stolen wealth?
For your information l was the only governor in this country who publicly declared his assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau. The story that l refused to declare my assets emanated during my ordeal with EFCC. They asked me to declare my assets and l told them, in this dungeon you people put me, l can’t write or do anything and besides statutorily, it’s only Code of Conduct Bureau that has power to ask me to declare my assets and which l have so declared publicly, before l knew it, it has gone to the media that l refused to declare my assets with EFCC, the question is, do they have the mandate for that. If they need anything concerning my assets declaration, can’t they interface with the Code of Conduct Bureau rather than harassing me.
What intrest do you have in Krestal Laurel Company?
It’s my private business outfit, l commissioned the office complex in 1997.
When Crestal Laurel was mentioned that it was used as a conduit pipe to siphon Ogun State funds can this also be far from the truth?
This allegation was not also correct. They said because one particular company was doing business with Ogun state and they discovered that the company paid some money into Krestal Laurel account, then that means l was using Krestal Laurel Company to siphon Ogun state money and also using it to take bribe from companies doing business with the state. The said money was #211million in tranches of #1.5million, #2million, #8.2million. I then told them, you’ve not even got down to know what these payments were for. We sell generators, we sell elevators and l don’t even have to know who is buying, it’s a growing concern we went through it on our way here, Krestal Laurel has a customer base of about 2000 conservatively. I don’t know if you are aware, some expatriates came here from Kone some weeks back l hosted them at Intercontinental hotel where Krestal Laurel was declared as the best distribution company for Kone elevators in the world for year 2013 and 2014 consecutively. They went on to also harass the managing director and finally they found all documents, LPO’s, Invoices, and payment vouchers for these money paid, infact those companies still owe us money that they have not paid.
Why do you believe Gov. Ibikunle Amosun want to put you out of circulation because it was alleged that he was the one that introduced you to former President Obasanjo and in turn you helped him to secure a multi million naira project from former Gov. Bola Tinubu’s government, can you shed more light on this ?
Before man and God, immediately the election was won and lost, l told my supporters in PPN publicly that for the interest of our state we should corporate with the new governor, these were my statements consistently but what happened, l guess he decided that the only issue for him is OGD. You may not know what am about to say, every single step that he had taken, name it, any project that he has done is just OGD either to erase OGD or to surpass OGD, how can that be the philosophy of a government. I attended Baptist Boys High School, BBHS, just like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo although l did not meet him in school, he had left before l entered, while he was prosecuting the war, l was already in school, he was one of our heroes he came home to Abeokuta and BBHS to come and greet us. Seun Obasanjo who is running Obasanjo farms today and my first son, Rotimi grew up together in Adisa Bashua in Surulere in the house of Mrs. Obasanjo. Ibikunle Amosun and l met at Golden Gate Restaurant in lkoyi when l went to honour Chief Bode Goerge’s invitation on one Friday and he came and sat with me and he introduced himself to me that he knew me and l told him l didn’t remember meeting him and we exchanged pleasantries before he could say much l was called to the high table, loh and behold by Monday he came to my office to ask for assistance and l said we hardly know each other but all the same what is the assistance all about, he said he was told Bola Tinubu government wanted to remove Olusola Adekanola as the revenue collector of Lagos State and he was interested in taking it and l looked at him and said really. I said it will be tough because l met you in a PDP outing and Tinubu run an AD government, he said he was told l knew Tinubu very well and l said even if Tinubu wanted to change Adekanola as the revenue collector, he will not pick a PDP person and l said l will not take him to Tinubu but let me ask my friend who was the commissioner for finance and l called Wale Edun, we call him and we exchanged pleasantries and l told him there is somebody l want to send and l want you to find a way to help him and he then asked me where I was, and I was in the office and he asked will you be there in another 30 minutes, l said Wale l will be here, he then said ok, l will come and see you. So Wale came as commissioner of finance to come and see me in that same office (Krestal Laurel complex) while we were waiting for Wale l told him to sit at the reception. When Wale arrived l told him l have a dilemma and l told him the story and l told him l don’t know the guy from Adam. Wale just asked me one question, are you sure you really want me to help him, l said yes by all means. He said we should bring him in and when he came in l introduced them to each other and l said the rest is over to you and Wale told him to see him in his office, l didn’t know they had given him any job. When Wale left as commissioner of finance somebody called Dr. Adewusi took over, l was the one who pushed Adewusi for the position of managing director of Ibile Holdings in 1999. When Adewusi took over as the commissioner for finance by that time l was already the governor of Ogun state, and he came to see me in Abeokuta, he said OGD what is happening he said one of your senators is troubling you and l said who is the senator, he said Amosun, l then said you know how we politicians behave. He then said we are owing him about #100 million and he will not pay him and l asked Adewusi what was the money for, he said when Wale was given his hand-over note, he said Dr. Adewusi, this guy is OGD whatever happens make sure you protect his interest and as a matter of fact they have been paying him even looking for money to pay him the outstanding and he now told me if he does not behave he won’t pay him again. That is the person he said he introduced me to Obasanjo, l can’t say my governor is a lair but everybody has agreed that he is not particularly good at telling the truth.