A prosecution witness recounted how a former clerk of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Dibu Ojerindeallegedly set up a radio station with 15 million naira diverted from the review body.
Najeem Sanusi, a retired air commodore, was giving evidence at the Federal High Court in Abuja, where Mr Ojerinde faces 18 official corruption charges brought against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC).
CIPC reported on the proceedings in a statement on Thursday.
Mr Sanusi, who described himself as a co-owner of the radio station, said it was incorporated as Ifelodun Communications and cited in Mr Ojerinde’s hometown of Oke-Ogun in the Oyo State.
He said the radio station was located in a compound where Mr Ojerinde’s late mother also lived, adding that adjoining land had been purchased to accommodate the mast and antenna.
Taking a walk down memory lane, Mr Sanusi told the court how he pitched the idea of setting up the radio station to Mr Ojerinde in 2015.
He testified that the former JAMB boss welcomed the idea and immediately invited his lawyer, Peter Oyewole, to a meeting.
He said that the Respondent subsequently asked a JAMB account officer to issue bank drafts of 15 million naira to obtain the radio license.
“The Accused then called Jimoh Olabisi who happened to be an accountant with JAMB and during a meeting at his house in Maitama, Abuja, he said that any queries related to financial matters should be directed to Mr. Jimoh.
“Afterwards, Mr. Jimoh gave me bank drafts of 15 million naira to pay NBC as part of the license conditions. I paid the draft to NBC, gave the original documents to Jimoh Olabisi and kept photocopies of the documents for my records,” he said.
He said he and Mr. Ojerinde each got 500,000 shares of the company.
“We agreed in the meeting held at his house that the name of the company should be Ifelodun Communications and we should go ahead and register the company with his name as this is the pre-requisite for obtaining a license from NBC.
“He asked that we allocate 500,000 shares to him and 500,000 to myself,” the witness said.
Led in evidence by ICPC Prosecutor, Olubunmi Olugasa, the witness who is a former Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Air Force, testified that Mr Ojerinde then used his son, Olumide Ojerinde, a member incumbent of the House of Representatives, to procure studio equipment and mast for the radio station.
The CIPC had arraigned him in the Federal High Court in Abuja in July 2021 on 18 counts involving the embezzlement of N5.2 billion of public funds during his tenure as Registrar of the National Examinations Council (NECO ) until his tenure as Managing Director of JAMB.
The prosecution presented documents including photocopies of the agenda of the meeting held with the defendant on the creation of the radio station as well as bank drafts for the license paid to NBC as exhibits.
Defense attorney Ibrahim Ishiyaku objected to the admissibility of the documents, arguing that the prosecution failed to establish a proper basis for presenting photocopies of the documents instead of the original.
The ICPC lawyer, Mr. Olugasa, defended the admissibility of the exhibits by arguing that they were personal copies of the witness and that they bore the witness’s signatures. He cited section 57(c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Act 2000 to support his position.
The trial judge, after hearing the arguments of both parties, adjourned the case until June 7 and 8, 2022 to rule on the admissibility of the exhibits and the continuation of the trial.
Mr Ojerinde’s troubles began after he was released as former JAMB chief on August 1, 2016.
His successor, Ishaq Oloyede, after taking office, began handing over unspent income to the tune of N5 billion, a feat that would never have been possible in previous years.
This raised suspicions about Mr Ojerinde’s handling of the organization’s funds while he was head of JAMB.
Investigations by the ICPC subsequently traced numerous properties acquired in various states, allegedly with the proceeds of funds diverted from NECO and JAMB to him.
PREMIUM TIMES reported in April 2020 how assets worth billions of naira allegedly linked to the proceeds of the alleged fraud were confiscated from it by the ICPC.
Property seized from him included schools, gas stations and houses located in different parts of Ilorin in Kwara State, Ibadan and Ogbomoso in Oyo State, Ile Ife in Osun State and Abuja.
The ICPC had arraigned him in the Federal High Court in Abuja in July 2021 on 18 counts involving embezzlement during his tenure as Registrar of NECO until his tenure as Managing Director of JAMB.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the ICPC opened its case in February after failed plea negotiations Mr Ojerinde had with the anti-corruption agency.
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