The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned Prof. Edwin Onyeneje, a former Rector of Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu and three others before Hon. Justice DugboOghoghorie at the Federal High Court, Enugu on a seven count charge of fraudulently aiding and obtaining money from the coffers of the institution, an offence that contravenes the provisions of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006.
The accused persons Prof. Edwin Onyeneje, former Rector of IMT, Dr. Leonard Ugwu, Chairman of Governing Council of the institution, Elder OnahFerdinald C., Head of Stores Department of IMT and Mr. Basil Offoh, the Administrative Secretary to the Rector, are standing trial for allegedly defrauding the institution of the sum of N83, 200,500.00 (Eight-Three Million, Two Hundred Thousand, Five Hundred naira only) between 2009-2011.
The defendants were alleged to have conspired and obtained money by false pretence by applying for N53,200,500 for the procurement of scientific equipment and N30,000,000 for Laboratory Equipment Consumables respectively, in preparation for reaccreditation of some programmes in the institution which were not procured and thereby committing an offence contrary to sections 8(a) and 1(1)(a) and punishable under section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006.
Counsel to the 4th defendant, B.C OguineEsq raised a preliminary objection that the matter is before Judicial Panel of Inquiry of Enugu State, waiting for government White paper on the outcome of the investigation. He appealed that the arraignment should not go on because it would amount to abuse of court process.
But Counsel to ICPC, Barr.E.C. Otti in his reply on point of law, relied on Section 396, sub-section 1 and 2 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, which states that objections on information or a charge may only be raised after the plea of the defendants and so argued that preliminary objection cannot be moved to stall the plea of the defendants.
Based on that, the court agreed with the prosecution counsel and ordered that the charge be read to the defendants.
The four accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them and their defence counsel filed motion for bail, praying the court to grant them bail based on the already existing administrative bail of ICPC. The court accordingly granted them their prayers by ruling that the defendants should continue to enjoy the administrative bail given by ICPC.
The case was adjourned to 14th April 2016 for arguing of the preliminary objection.