N5.2bn Fraud: Court grants Ex-JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ojerinde, bail

A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has admitted the former Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Lawrence Adedibu Ojerinde, to bail in the sum of N200 million.

Ojerinde was on Monday docked by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over allegations of abuse of office and fraudulent diversion of an estimated N5.2 billion from government coffers.

ICPC, in an 18-count charge filed before Justice Obiora Egwuatu, accused Ojerinde of committing multiple frauds while heading the National Examinations Council (NECO) and JAMB.

The proof of evidence endorsed by the prosecutor, Ebenezer Shogunle, a Deputy Commissioner with the ICPC, detailed many instances where the Defendant conferred corrupt advantage upon himself at different times as while he was the Registrar/Chief Executive of JAMB and NECO respectively in violation of Sections 19, 24, 25 (1) (a) and (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and Section 1 (1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, 2006.

One of the count reads, “That you Professor Lawrence Adedibu Ojerinde, on or about 16th February 2009, in Abuja used your position as Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to confer corrupt advantage upon one Jimoh Olabisi Olatunde, a public officer, by instructing Zenith Bank Plc to open an account No. 1002833087 in the name of JAMB/J.O. Olabisi into which you subsequently diverted a cumulative sum of N2,769,083,044.04 (Two Billion, Seven Hundred and Sixty-Nine Million, Eighty Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty-Six Naira, Four Kobo) property of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to, and punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

At the resumed trial Thursday, Counsel to Ojerinde, Peter Olorunnisola, SAN, prayed the court to grant the Defendant who has been in custody at a Correctional Center Suleija bail on health grounds. 

Olorunnisola told the court that the two days spent at the Suleja Correctional Center, by his client was already having adverse effect on his health. 

However, Shogunle prayed the court to deny Ojerinde bail to prevent him from tempering with ongoing further investigation by the Commission.

After listening to both parties, the trial judge ruled that offences for which the accused was being tried were bailable under extant laws.

The Court therefore granted him bail in the sum of N200 million with two sureties in like sum.

Justice Egwuata further ruled that sureties must be resident in Abuja, with three years clearance. One of the sureties must be a professor in a federal university and the other a property owner within Abuja, who must deposit the Certificate of Occupancy with the Court Registrar.

The matter was then adjourned to 22nd and 23rd July 2021, for commencement of trial.