*Photo: Prof Ojerinde *
A legal practitioner, Peter Oyewole, on Wednesday, testified against the former Registrar, Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Adedibu Ojerinde, In the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Oyewole told Justice Obiora Egwuatu that Ojerinde engaged him as his personal lawyer while serving as the chief executive of JAMB.He stated this while being led in evidence by counsel to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Ebenezer Shogunle.
The testimony followed a breakdown in the ex-JAMB registrar’s proposed plea bargain talks with the ICPC.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that both the prosecution and defence lawyers had, on Tuesday, prayed the court to allow parties one more day to work out a possible plea bargain arrangement.
The judge then adjourned the matter until Wednesday for a report on the plea bargain.
However, at the mention of the case earlier today, lead prosecuting lawyer, Ebenezer Shogunle, told the court that the planned out-of-court settlement had failed.
“My lord, I regret to inform the court that there has been no plea bargain agreement in this matter.
“We have, therefore, resolved to proceed with the hearing. We have witnesses in court and ready to proceed,” Shogunle said.
Also, the lead defence lawyer, Ibrahim Ishaku, SAN, confirmed Shogunle’s statement.“That is the position, my lord, and we are ready for trial,” he said.
While being led in evidence by Shogunle, the first prosecution witness (PW1), Oyewole, said he acted as Ojerinde’s personal lawyer, through his law firm, P. I. Oye and Associates, at a point, during which he aided him to incorporate companies and purchase property.
“I am a solicitor and an advocate. I was called to Bar on Sept. 30, 1999 and since then, I have been in practice.
“On or about April 25, 2020, I was served with order of this honourable court ordering me to disclose the information in respect of certain property listed under my name.
“In compliance with the order of the court, I filed an affidavit of disclosure and a further affidavit.“I also attended an interview with the officers of ICPC where I also made statement,” he said.
The witness said just recently, the officers of the ICPC informed him that certain information in his affidavit and written statement had become the subject of a criminal charge before the court.Shogunle thereafter tendered the witness’ statement and other documents as exhibits and the court admitted them in evidence after it was not opposed by defence lawyer.
Oyewole told the court that Exhibit A contained list of companies and assets in relation to the transaction he did with Ojerinde.
‘Exhibit B and Exhibit B1 contain list of companies that I registered on behalf of the defendant as well as property which the defendant purchased,” he said.
He listed the companies to include OKeafin Boys and Girls Hostel Ltd, Shapatti International School, Doyin Ogbohi Petroleum Ltd, Cheng Marbles Ltd, Standout Institute Ltd, Trillium Learning Centre School, Grace Petroleum Ltd, Ifelodun Communications Ltd, etc.
He said Ojerinde instructed him to registered the companies and acquired the property on his behalf.
“The instruction were given to me expressly by the defendant, sometimes while we were together, or with sometimes through one Dr Jimoh Olabisi,” he said.
Oyewole said there were letters of allocations of property in the name of his law firm, P. I. Oye and Associates, which were now exhibits before the court.
When the ICPC lawyer asked Oyewole to tell the court the circumstances leading to purchasing those property in the name of his law firm and not in Ojerinde’s name, he said: “They were purchased between Oct 2007 and June 17, 2008.”
The witness, who said this was in 2007 when Ojerinde was to resumed as registrar of JAMB after his expiration of his term as registrar of National Examination Council (NECO), said the former JAMB boss also came with two of his former staff at NECO to resume in JAMB.
He said within the period, two property he bought at EFAB on the instruction of the ex-JAMB registrar were purchased on his name because the property were placed under instruction. “So I was instructed by the defendant to purchase them and to follow up on the property,” he said.
He said he gave the original papers of the property to Honourable Olumide, who is Ojerinde’s son on Aug. 3, 2012.
The witness, who disclosed that most of the companies registered were not in Ojerinde’s name, mentioned some of the shareholders of the companies.
He said for Cheng Marbles Ltd at No. 21, Offa Road, Ilorin, Olayiwola Ayanwale and Ibrahim Danmusa were the directors/shareholders.He said for Standout Institute Ltd at No. 1, Offa Road, Ilorin, the directors/shareholders were Olowodola Deinde and Ayanwale Olamide.
For Ifelodun Communications Ltd, he said the directors were Ojerinde Dibu and Sanusi Najeem.Oyewole said for Doyin Ogbohi Petroleum Ltd, the directors were Ojerinde Dayo and Ojerinde Olumide, the defendant’s sons.
For Grace Petroleum Ltd, he said the directors were Awodajo Habib and Adeyanju Gbenga.He said for Shapatti International School in Ilorin, the directors were Ojerinde Olutoyin, Ojerinde Akanbi, and Ojerinde Adebayo.
“Those names were supplied by the defendants. The defendant is the second director (Ojerinde Akanbi) here,” he said.
He said though he did not meet any of them in person at the time the companies were incorporated, Ojerinde supplied all the names.
“I acted based on the instruction given to me,” he said.
He tendered record of payments in various bank drafts as exhibits before the court.
The witness also gave an evidence on a document addressed to Alhaji Muri Lamidi for full payment of a property in Ghana on the instruction of Ojerinde.
“It was delivered to me for delivery by Dr Jimoh Olabisi. According to Jimoh, he was not in speaking terms with defendant (Ojerinde) and wants me to deliver the documents,” he said.He said another title document of a property delivered to him by Y. A. Adeleke and Co was handed over to Honourable Olumide, Ojerinde’s son.
Oyewole said in reacting to his affidavit to show cause, Ojerinde denied his relationship with him in a counter affidavit filed before the court, saying “he never gave me instruction to act as his solicitor.”
“The name, Ojerinde Akanbi, was supplied by the defendant during the incorporation of Shapatti International School and the names supplied to me during the registration of Ifelodun Communications Ltd was Ojerinde Dibu. I know that the two names referred to the defendant,” he said.
He said he was aware of a microfinance bank, Osanta Micro Finance Bank Ltd.
“it is a community bank in our town,” he said.Oyewole, who said he neither had a share in the bank nor did his law firm, however turned around to accept that another company which he called Artic Business Company Ltd, owned by him (the witness), had a share in the bank together with his law firm.
“I know it (Artic Ltd). It is my company. My company own shares in the bank because in the course of my interview with ICPC, I was shown the register of shareholders of the microfinance bank and when I saw the register that my two companies as well as my law firm are majority shareholders,” he said.
Justice Egwuatu adjourned the matter until April 4 and April 5 for continuation of trial.The ICPC had, on July 8, 2021, arraigned the former JAMB Registrar on an 18-count charge bordering on diversion of public funds to the tune of N5 billion.
He was said to have committed the offence during his tenure as registrar of the National Examination Council (NECO) and JAMB.Ojerinde, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was later admitted to bail in the sum of N200 million. (NAN)