N177m Fraud: Professor,Two Others Jailed 40 Years.

A Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan on Tuesday sentenced former Executive Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (I.A.R.T),Professor Benjamin Ogunbodede and two others to 40 years imprisonment without an option of fine.

Two others are; Zaccheaus Tejumola and Adenekan Clement.

Ogunbodede,a Professor of agriculture, is also a Reverend of the Anglican Church, while Tejumade and Adenekan were chief accountant and staff of the agricultural research  institute respectively.

They were charged on 16-count charge which bordered on conspiracy,unlawful conversion,and stealing of school subvention and other charges since 2011.

Justice Ayo Emmanuel sentenced the accused persons to four years jail term for each of the offences they were found guilty,running to forty years, which the court said will run concurrently.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has  secured the conviction of one Jalekun Omitawoju Yisau and nine other defendants in a case of alleged conspiracy,misappropriation and diversion of funds.The other convicted defendants are Afribiz Viables Ventures,Allied Aque-Forte Ventures, Manifield Mercies Ventures,Agbeloba Agrotech Ventures Ltd, Torosbury International Agency Ltd,Cradle Engineering Services Ltd, Momm Limited, Al-Tora Allied Business,Arieco Trading Ventures

The convicts were charged before Justice N. Ayo Emmanuel of the Federal High Court,Ibadan,Oyo State alongside a former Director of Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training (IART),Professor Benjamin Olufemi Ogunbodede,  Zaccheaus Tejumola and Adenose Clement.

When they were first arraigned on October 30, 2014,all the accused persons had pleaded not guilty to the17-count charge bordering on misappropriation and diversion of funds to the tune of N115,000,000 proffered against them by the EFCC.

But at the resumed hearing on June 17, the prosecuting counsel,Rotimi Oyedepo informed the court of the intention of the 4th defendant  ( Jalekun Omitawoju Yisau) who is also the alter ego  of the  5th – 13th defendants  to change their plea from “not guilty” to “guilty”.Counsel to Yisau,Akin Ladipo,confirmed the information presented by the prosecution. Consequently,the charges that applied to the convicts were raid to them and they pleaded “guilty”.

In view of their plea,Oyedepo urged the court to convict them accordingly.

But the trio of Tunde Olupona,I. A Salawu and Mrs B.Y Adegboyega counsel to Professor Ogunbodede,Tejumola and Clement respectively,opposed the plea bargain agreement, contending that the proceeding before the court is a joint trial and that the plea bargain agreement would prejudice the other parties involved in this matter.

Justice Emmanuel overruled their objections,convicted and sentenced the 4th -13th defendants to two and half years imprisonment each on counts 1, 3,5,8,10,14 and17.The sentence would take effect from 30th October, 2014 when the defendants were first arraigned.They are also to sign a bond with the EFCC, seven days after their release,to be of good conduct and never get involved in financial crimes both within and outside Nigeria.

-Independent Ng