The High Court of Niger State, in Minna, was told how a former Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Dibu Ojeriende, allegedly divertedN341.9 million from the National Examination Council (NECO) to set up a personal printing press, school and buildings.
Prosecution witness, Dr. Jimoh Olatunde, who testified before the trial judge, Justice Abdullahi Mikailu, in the on-going trial of Ojerinde, told the court that N216, 297.443 was deceitfully withdrawn from NECO account for payments for 17 fictitious printing contracts, which was in actual sense, used for establishing the printing press.
Dr. Olatunde is the first witness to be brought before Justice Mikailu, in a 10-count charge of official corruption and abuse of office brought against Ojerinde by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The witness, who is a former deputy director and Head of Treasury at NECO said, “We follow due process for the award of the contracts strictly on paper but I am confirming to this court that I know what went on underneath despite perfection of all the documents and processes.
‘Let me give you an instance, between 2004/5 most printing contracts were awarded to these 17 companies owned by a friend of Prof. Dibu Ojerinde. He was the one in charge of all printing materials in NECO.
‘He brought a handwritten bill of N246, 914, 890 when he wanted to establish a printing press for Prof Dibu Ojeriende and I was directed to pay 87.6% amounting to N216, 297.443 only. We perfected all the documents through award of fictitious contracts to the 17 companies.”
While being led in evidence by counsel to ICPC, Ebenezer Shogunle, the witness testified about the various properties he acquired in Minna for Ojerinde using different fronts including one Alhaji Muri Lamidi, and fictitious address in Kontagora, Niger State.
The witness further listed before the court, a multiple storey building known as ‘TejumolaHouse’, Ojodu, Lagos, which was acquired in 2003, in the name of Doyin OgbohiIndustries Ltd from Intercontinental Bank for N27 million and Sapati International School, Ilorin, Kwara State, which was built at an initial contract sum of N98.6 million.
The witness who took full responsibility for all the illegal withdrawal of funds from NECO being the Head of Treasury as at the time the alleged fraud took place, told the court that assets were acquired with stolen public funds.
A total of 18 documents including correspondence addressed to the witness as ‘Client Representative’ by the various contractors used for the projects as well as Bills of Quantities were tendered and admitted in evidence.
The witness also tendered some documents to show that a number of shares in some blue chip companies acquired for the former JAMB boss were transferred to ‘Madiba’sTrust’, an entity created to consolidate.
While being cross examined by counsel to the Defendant, Ibrahim Ishyaku, SAN, the ICPC witness also tendered a list of 17 companies which he said were used to siphon funds from NECO to acquire some of the companies and assets for the benefit of the Defendant.
The matter has been adjourned to 7-8 March, 2022 for continuation of hearing following complaint of back ache by the witness and further cross examination by the defence counsel.