The trial of the former registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Dibu Ojerinde, and four of his children was stalled on Monday at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court following a plea for an adjournment by the defence.
The matter, listed for trial, could not proceed after counsel for the defence, Ibrahim Isiyaku, SAN, sought an adjournment before Justice Inyang Ekwo to enable him to make proper arrangements for the defendants’ representation.
When the matter was called, Mr Isiyaku, who announced appearances for the first, second, third, seventh, ninth, 10th and 11th defendants, acknowledged the case was slated for trial.
He, however, said that though the matter was brought to his office and there had been appearances before for all the defendants in his absence, he only came into the matter fully the previous day.
“Having studied the file, I realise that we cannot appear for all the defendants but for seven of them only in order to avoid conflict of interest.
“I have already discussed with the prosecution that we shall be seeking adjournment and later arranging counsel for the other four defendants,” he said.
ICPC’s lawyer, Ebenezer Shogunle, did not oppose the application.
But Mr Shogunle stated that he could only concede an adjournment for a day since the matter continued the following day as their witnesses were on the ground.
Mr Isiyaku, who insisted he would not be around on Tuesday, said he had an election petition to attend to.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until November 15 and November 16 for the commencement of the trial.
The judge, however, warned that the court would not entertain any question regarding the admissibility of documents sought to be tendered until the end of the trial to accelerate the hearing in the matter.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had, on June 15, arraigned the ex-JAMB registrar on charges of official corruption and abuse of office.
In a charge marked FHC//ABJ/CR/119/2023, Mr Ojerinde was arraigned alongside four of his children: Mary Ojerinde, Olumide Ojerinde, Adebayo Ojerinde and Oluwaseun Ojerinde as the eighth to 11th defendants.
Also joined in the 17-count charge are six companies linked to him, namely Doyin Ogbohi Petroleum Limited, Cheng Marbles Limited, Sapati International Schools Limited, Trillium Learning Centre Limited, Standout Institutes Limited and Esli Perfect Security Printers Limited as 2nd to 7th defendants, respectively.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the counts preferred against them and were granted bail by the court.
In the 17 charges, ICPC alleged that the former JAMB boss conspired with three of his children (Oluwaseun Ojerinde, Olumide Ojerinde, and Adebayo Ojerinde) to sell off property worth $150,000 after it had been forfeited to the federal government by a court order.
The property is at House No. 4 Ahomko Drive, Achimota Phase 2, Accra, Ghana.
The prosecution also accused Mr Ojerinde of incorporating companies and taking up simultaneous appointments as chairman and director while being a public officer on full-time appointment as registrar and chief executive of the National Examinations Council (NECO), Minna and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Bwari, Abuja.