It was a moving sight as the grey-haired septugenarian wept profusely in open court as he, his three sons, daughter-in-law were Thursday put on fresh trial by the Federal Government for allegedly selling off its property in Ghana.
The accused persons who were all present in court were docked on 17-count criminal charges by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
Professor Adedibu Ojerinde, the former Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in the third series of the criminal charges was docked before a Federal High Court in Abuja alongside his family’s six companies.
In one count out of a 17-count charge, the Commission through its counsel, Mr. Ebenezer Shogunle, told the Court how the former JAMB boss conspired with three of his children (Oluwaseun Adeniyi Ojerinde, Olumide Abiodun Ojerinde and Adebayo Ojerinde) to sell off property worth One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($150,000:00) situated at House No. 4 Ahomko Drive, Achimota Phase 2, Accra, Ghana even after the property had been forfeited to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Professor Ojerinde was also accused of incorporating companies and taking up simultaneous appointments as Chairman and Director, while being a public officer on full time appointment as Registrar/Chief Executive of National Examinations Council (NECO), Minna and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Bwari, knowing very well that the Code of Conduct for Public Officers forbids public officers from engaging in private business other than farming or participating in shareholding of joint stock companies.
The Court was also informed of how the 1st defendant (Ojerinde) in order to avoid various anti-corruption and anti-money laundering policies of government, notably Know Your Customer (KYC) and Bank Verification Number (BVN) policies, took measures to conceal his ownership and active participation in the management of some of these companies by using forged documents, stolen identities and synthetic names.
As a result of some of these acts, the former JAMB Registrar is also standing trial at the Niger State High Court as well as Federal High Court, Abuja for alleged corruption and other ancillary offences.
These actions, ICPC said, are contrary to, and punishable under sections 17, 19, 22 and 24 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, and contrary to, and punishable under Section 1 of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act, 2006 as well as contrary to, and punishable under Section 1 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP M17 of the Revised Laws of the Federation, 2007.
The fresh charge indicated that corrupt benefit was conferred on Ojerinde while being a public officer by one Jimoh Olabisi Olatunde through corrupt practices and abuse of office contrary to section 26 (1) ( c) and punishable under section 24 of the ICPC Act 2000.
Apart from Ojerinde, his three sons: Olumide Abiodun Ojerinde, Adedayo Ojerinde and Oluwaseun Adeniyi Ojerinde, and the daughter- in- law, Mary Funmilola Ojerinde were docked.
The family companies also put on trial are Doyin Ogbohi Petroleum Ltd, Cheng Marbles Limited, Sapati International Schools Ltd, Trillium Learning Centers Ltd, Standout Institutes Ltd and ESLI Perfect Security Printers Ltd.
Apart from the alleged unlawful sale of the Federal Government property in Ghana, the former JAMB Registrar was said to have used fake names to acquire the companies, opened bank accounts, acquired Petroleum Stations and bought landed properties in Ilorin, Kwara State while being a public officer.
The charges also indicated that some of the sons acted as agents to facilitate quick alleged sales of the House in Ghana.
However when the charges were read, all the defendants pleaded not guilty.
ICPC’S lawyer, Ebenezer Adenekan Shogunle objected vehemently to granting of bail to Ojerinde and Oluwaseun Adeniyi Ojerinde on the grounds of their refusal to honour series of invitations by the anti-graft agency as well as likelihood of filing more charges against them.
Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo who took the plea of the defendants asked the ICPC’S lawyer if there are pending criminal charges against them and if they were admitted on bail by courts which the counsel answered in the affirmative.
The counsel admitted that Ojerinde was facing similar trial before a Niger State High Court in Minna and another one before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
Following the confirmation that another Federal High court in Abuja had once admitted the ex-JAMB Registrar to bail, Justice Ekwo invoked the previous bail conditions to admit him to bail.
The Judge however, admitted that three sons and daughter- in- law to bail in the sum of N20n and one surety each in the like sum who must be property owners in Abuja with verified proof of ownership.
The original title documents of the properties are also to be deposited with the court while the defendants were ordered to deposit their traveling passports with the Court’s Registrar and must not travel out of the country without the permission of the Court.
Justice Ekwo ordered Ojerinde to immediately attend to his failling health so as to be able to stand for trial as required by law.
The Court subsequently fixed November 13, 14, 15 and 16 for trial during which the ICPC is expected to call 18 witnesses to testify against the defendants.