Alleged N5bn fraud: Ex-JAMB Registrar seeks release from detention - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Thursday, May 4, 2023

Alleged N5bn fraud: Ex-JAMB Registrar seeks release from detention

... says ICPC re-arrested him without warrant

The former Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Adedibu Ojerinde, on Thursday, prayed the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to order his release from detention.

Ojerinde, who is facing trial for allegedly diverting public funds totalling about N5billion, was on January 26, re-arrested at the premises of the court by operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC.

His arrest came after an erstwhile Deputy Director of Finance at the examination body, Mr Jimoh Olabisi, gave his testimony as the 4th prosecution witness in the matter.

Olabisi, in his evidence, made indicting revelations that were not part of the charge already pending against the former JAMB boss.

Meanwhile, at the resumed proceedings in the matter on Thursday, Ojerinde's lawyer, Mr. Eteya Ogana, drew attention of the court to a motion challenging the manner in which the ICPC re-arrested his client, even as he applied for his release from detention.

Ogana alleged that the anti-corruption agency re-arrested his client without a valid warrant.

However, trial Justice Obiora Egwuatu, upon going through the case file, said he could not find Ojerinde's fresh application in the court's record.

Following the development, the defence lawyer, Ogana, subsequently admitted that there was an error in the suit number that was attached to the motion.

The lawyer noted that instead of putting charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/97/21 in the application, he erroneously wrote FHC/ABJ/CR/74/21, leading to a mix-up in the filing.

He, therefore, prayed for an adjournment to enable him to correct the error.

On its part, the ICPC, through its own lawyer, Mr. Ebenezer Shogunle, refuted the allegation that the ex-JAMB Registrar was re-arrested without a warrant.

Shogunle urged the court to inspect a warrant he adduced to establish that Ojerinde's re-arrest and detention had legal backing.

More so, he argued that the fresh application by the defendant had been overtaken by events since he has already been charged before another court on a separate matter. 

He noted that Ojerinde had also filed a similar application for bail before trial Justice Inyang Ekwo who is handling the second case against him.

“I think we should wait for that decision,” the ICPC lawyer added.

After he had listened to both sides, Justice Egwuatu adjourned the matter till June 20.

It will be recalled the court had on March 24, adjourned till April 19 to take Ojerinde's fresh plea on a new charge the ICPC preferred against him and his three sons; Olumide, Adedayo and Oluwaseun.

Equally joined as defendants in the case included his daughter-in-law, Mary Funmilola Ojerinde, as well as five companies; Doyin Ogbohi Petroleum Ltd, Cheng Marbles Ltd, Sapati International Schools Ltd, Trillium Learnings Centre Ltd and Standout Institutes Ltd.
ICPC had in the previous 18-count charge before the court, alleged that the former JAMB Registrar committed multiple frauds between 2003 and 2021, while he held sway at the examination body.

It alleged that the former JAMB boss had while serving as the Registrar of the National Examination Council, NECO, used his position to gratify himself, by "corruptly converting the sum of N27m, property of the Federal Government of Nigeria to personal use, to acquire a property known as Tejumola House,Ikeja, Lagos in the name of Doyin Ogbohi Industries Ltd, a company in which you have a private interest."

He was accused of diverting N3, 811,876,230.10, around February 16, 2009, into a Zenith Bank accounts number: 1002833087 and 1011265699 "in the name of JAMB-J. O. Olabisi."

It told the court that the defendant diverted public funds to acquire landed property from a property firm, EFAB Estate, Abuja, though a proxy - P.I. Oye and Associates, "in order to conceal your beneficial interest in the said property."

Ojerinde, who was arraigned on July 6, 2021, pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as he was initially released on bail to the tune of N200million.

He had earlier prayed the court to suspend his trial to enable him to strike a plea bargain deal with the ICPC.

However, after the planned bargain crumbled, the court resumed proceedings in the case.

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