Alleged N115million fraud: Court adjourns trial of former I.A.R&T Director & three others till Nov 20.
By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan.
A Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan tuesday adjourned the trial of former Executive Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (I.A.R&T) of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Prof. Benjamin Adefemi Ogunbodede, and three others over alleged N115 million fraud till November 20, 2015.
At the resumed hearing, the third defendant prayed the court for another adjournment of the trial on the ground that his counsel was not in court.
But the EFCC Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo frowned at adjournment plea saying it was a deliberate ploy by the defence counsel to frustrate the prosecution of the accused persons, asking the court to be courageous enough to ensure justice is served in the matter.
The EFCC prosecutor told the court that the counsel to the accused persons were holding briefs for themselves when they applied for bail for their clients as well as when they were challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter, but could not hold briefs for themselves when the hearing is about to commence.
He stressed that it was unfortunate that counsel to the third defendant was not in court, despite the fact that the prosecution had done everything to ensure that witnesses were brought to the court in anticipation that hearing would commence on the matter.
The EFCC prosecutor then prayed the court to award a cost for the transportation and welfare of the witnesses against the third defendant, since no reason was given for the absence of his counsel in the court.
Justice Ayo Emmanuel before adjourning the trial till November 20 in the interest of justice, said nobody can intimidate him in handling any criminal case having served as a Magistrate for many years before he was elevated to the Federal High Court.
The Judge then awarded a cost of N50,000 against the third defendant as requested by the EFCC Prosecutor.
It will be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) had dragged the former Executive Director, Professor Ogunbodede, Zaccheaus Tejumola, Adenose Clement and Jalekun Omitowoju Yisua, before the court on a 17-count charge, following petitions written against the former I.A.R &T boss by all the unions of the institute and the industrial action that paralyzed the research institute for over eleven months.
According to the charge with suit number FHC/IB/55C/14, the accused persons on or about 6th day of June, 2011 conspired among themselves to commit an offence to wit: conversion of the sum of N115,750,000 which sum was derived from theft and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 No. 11 and punishable under section 15 of the same Act.
The court had on September 28, 2015 adjourned the matter till November 10, 2015 for commencement of hearing in the matter.