The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, granted bail to the former Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), AdedibuOjerinde, to the tune of N200million.
The court had on Tuesday, remanded Ojerinde in prison custody after the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and arraigned him on an 18-count criminal charge bordering on alleged N5.2billion fraud.
The ICPC had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/97/2021, alleged that the defendant committed multiple frauds between 2003 and 2021, while he held sway at JAMB.
At the resumed proceedings in the matter, yesterday, the former JAMB boss who pleaded not guilty to the charge persuaded the court to release him on bail pending the determination of the charge against him.
Placing reliance on Section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, and Section 35(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Ojerinde’s lawyer, Peter Olorunnishola, SAN, argued that the charge against his client contained bailable offences.
He equally drew the attention of the court to the fact that his client was previously granted administrative bail by the ICPC.
The Prosecution counsel, Mr. Ebenezer Shogunle, however, opposed the bail application.
Shogunle told the court that the Defendant posed a flight risk, alleging that he breached the administrative bail conditions that were granted to him by the ICPC.
More so, the Prosecution alleged that contrary to one of the administrative bail conditions, the defendant frustrated the investigation process when he refused to make his family members available for interrogation.
The ICPC lawyer told the court that at the time when some persons were invited for questioning, Ojerinde quickly agreed to a plea bargain in a bid to stall the investigation.
Alleging that the defendant was likely to intimidate some of the witnesses billed to testify in the matter, ICPC, prayed the court to deny him bail.
However, in his ruling, trial Justice ObioraEgwuatu said he was minded to accede to the bail request.
The trial Judge held that the ICPC failed to adduce any evidence to back its claim that the defendant either violated his administrative bail conditions or interfered with the investigation process.
Consequently, he granted the defendant bail in the sum of N200million with two sureties in the like sum.
According to the court, “The sureties must be resident in Abuja, provide an acceptable means of identification and evidence of tax payment for three years.
“One of the sureties shall be a professor in a federal university, provide documented evidence of professorship, letter of appointment, and staff identity card.
“Second surety shall be a property owner in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Abuja. The building must be covered with a certificate of occupancy which will be deposited with the registrar of this court.
“The residences of the sureties shall be verified, pictures of the residences showing the street name and number shall be exhibited”, it held.
The court further ordered the defendant to surrender his international passport and not travel out of the country without permission.
The matter was subsequently adjourned till July 22 for trial.
ICPC had in count one of the charge, alleged that the defendant had while serving as the Registrar of NECO, used his position to gratify himself by “corruptly converting the sum of N27million, property of the Federal Government of Nigeria to personal use, to acquire a property known as Tejumola House, Ikeja, Lagos in the name of DoyinOgbohi Industries Ltd, a company in which you have a private interest.”
In counts two and three, Ojerinde 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.”
He was, in counts four and five, alleged to have used his position as JAMB Registrar to confer a corrupt advantage on one JimohOlabisiOlatunde, whose accounts in Zenith Bank and Stanbic IBTC Plc with number: 1013583506 and 0022594599, in the name of JAMB-J. O. Olatunde, and allegedly diverted the sum of N205,712,575.23 between 2019 and 2018.
In count six, Ojerinde was said to have, between January and February 2014, conferred corrupt advantage on his associate by allegedly authorising the payment of N486million to Messrs Pristine Global Integrated Company, through a Zenith Bank account number: 1013701117 for the supply of “examination materials – calculators, pencil and eraser,” which sum was above his authorised approval threshold.
He was, in count eight, accused of diverting N15million with which he allegedly acquired a broadcast license for Ifelodun Communications Ltd (Gravity FM, Igboho), a company in which he is said to have a private interest.
In counts nine, 10, 11, and 12, Ojerinde was alleged to have 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.”
In counts 17 and 18, Ojerinde was accused of making false statements in respect of his relationship with his former lawyer, Peters Oyewole, one AdeniyiBanji, and a firm, Standout Industries Ltd.
The defendant was arraigned after his earlier moves for a plea bargain with the ICPC crumbled.
Senators Fault Buhari’s Planned Farm Settlements
Some senators have expressed concerns over plans by the regime of President. Muhammadu Buhari, to establish farm settlements in each of the 108 senatorial districts in Nigeria.
They noted that any arrangement to acquire land by the Federal Government at the moment without giving details of what it would be used for, might face stiff resistance from various communities.
The President had last month, directed the National Agricultural Land Development Authority to set up the integrated farm estates in 108 senatorial districts nationwide.
Already, the policy has been greeted with criticisms from the leadership of the various ethnic groups in the middle belt, and southern part of the country, describing it as an attempt in disguise, to create grazing areas for cattle.
The Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District, Matthew Urhoghide, said the Federal Government should give details of the project before approaching state governments for land allocation.
He said, “We are in the Senate to represent our people. I know what my people want
“What we quarrel against is open grazing; we are not against ranching. We are not saying that a Fulani man that has a herd of cattle cannot come to the South to do the business of ranching but he cannot come to carry out open grazing.
“Grazing has two effects. It leads to wanton destruction of farmland. You cannot use animal husbandry to destroy crop farming. There are also criminal cases associated with it including murder.
“If the Federal Government is coming to get land in my state for ranching, it is okay because we need beef, which would be richer, when it is from the ranching system.
“However, the government should make its intention very clear on the policy to avoid major clashes and crisis.”
Similarly, Senator Abba Moro, representing Benue South in the red chamber said government could make arrangements for herders to do the business of ranching but not at the expense of the farmers.
He advised the Federal Government to go to the drawing board and come up with a modern arrangement to make ranching the way to go.
He said, “When government policies are viewed with suspicion, when citizens lack trust in government policies, then something is wrong.
“Until we address the root causes of conflicts between herders and farmers, and genuinely come out with the right way to go through dialogue, any policy that is thrown at the citizens will be looked at with suspicion which would cause some level of tension.
Senator Wants Improved Network For Results Transmission
The Senate Chief Whip, Sen. Orji Kalu, says Nigeria requires 95 per cent of national network coverage to enable electronic transmission of election results in the country.
Kalu said this in an interview with The Tide source yesterday in Abuja.
Recall that 52 senators on July 15 voted against electronic transmission of results in the forthcoming general election while 28 voted for and 28 absentees.
The senators insisted that the Independent National Electoral Commission should be compelled to seek clearance from Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) while the National Assembly would have to approve the verdict of NCC.
Kalu, insisted the current network coverage was inadequate.
“I have never been against transmission of results , I only said we don’t have adequate coverage where we live,this is the issue.
“We have coverage, but it is not adequate.
‘Like Abia North Senatorial District where I come from, there is no adequate coverage, may be 43 per cent coverage, so how are we going to do that.
“ I believe in electronic transmission,but I want to quickly urge the NCC to deploy their technology to ensure wider coverage; I believe in that process because it is transparent.
“ I don’t want to listen to officials who want to buy equipment and make commissions, I am telling myself the truth, if we even have a coverage of 95 per cent it will be okay, but we have below 50 per cent in the entire country.
“I am not talking about my constituency.
“ It wasn’t a party decision to vote against e transmission and not a clique decision, it was out of my conscience.
“ I can only do what I will do that will benefit all Nigerians,” Kalu said.
Igbo Stakeholders Decry Absence Of S’East Govs At Forum
The absence of four Governors of the South-East in the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting held last Thursday in Enugu has been strongly condemned by members of the Concerned Igbo Stake-holders Forum (CISF).
The leader of the group, Mr Chukwuma Okenwa told newsmen in Enugu that there was no justifiable reason that would be enough for these governors to be absent in a meeting of such magnitude.
According to him, it was wrong particularly coming at a time when the region is battling socio-economic and security concerns stemming from the sit-at-home order issued by the proscribed separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
His words: “The absence of the Governors of Abia, Ebonyi, Imo and Anambra States leaves a lot to question the commitment of these governors to the growth and advancement of the South-East in missing a crucial meeting held within their geopolitical zone.
He further described as very disturbing the conspicuous absence of the Anambra Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, or a representative from the state at the meeting.
Okenwa said that the body language of the South-East governors in recent times leaves no one to doubt that these governors have magnified their interest above that of the region and Ndi-Igbo in general.
“Their gaze at the forthcoming elections in 2023 is becoming an unbearable distraction for them in delivering their mandate to the people,” he also lamented.
The group, therefore beckoned on Ndi-Igbo, regardless of political party affiliation, to unite and formidably negotiate a favourable space in the political scheme of things.
According to him, when this is done, we will ensure an unhindered growth and development of all Igbos, he added.
By: Canice Amadi, Enugu
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