A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday ordered former Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Adedibu Ojerinde, to pay N100,000 witness’ transportation expenses to the prosecution for stalling proceedings in his trial for alleged diversion of over N5.2billion public funds.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu handed out the order while ruling in an application for adjournment made by Ojerinde’s new lawyer, Doyin Awoyale.
At the mention of the case, lead prosecuting lawyer, Ebenezer Shogunle said the case was set down for the commencement of trial, and that the prosecution had three witnesses in court.
Awoyale said he and others were just briefed by the defendant to represent him.
He said since the previous defence lawyer left, the defendant’s new legal team requires time to familiarise itself with the case.
He then prayed the court to shelve the business of the court for the day, a request Sogunle objected to, arguing that it was unfair to abort the planned commencement of trial after the prosecution has taken the pain to assemble its witnesses.
Shogunle said one of the witnesses travelled at great risk from Ibadan the previous day. He noted that the last three adjournments have been at the instance of the defence.
He however added that should the court choose to grant the defence lawyer’s request, it should be on the condition that the defendant pays the prosecution witness’ expenses as provided in Section 251 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
Although Awoyale initially objected to the prosecution’s request that his client pays the cost of bringing its witnesses to court, he later changed his mind upon the judge’s intervention.
In a ruling, Justice Egwuatu granted the defence’s prayer for an adjournment and proceeded to order it to pay N100,000 to the prosecution, as witness’ expenses, on or before October 11.
The judge then adjourned till February 8 next year for the commencement of trial.
Ojerinde was arraigned on July 6 on an 18-count charge, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/97/2021, in which he was accused among others, of complicity in the diversion of public funds estimated at over N5.2 billion.
The prosecuting agency – Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) – claimed Ojerinde committed the alleged offences contained in the charge, from when he served as the Registrar of the National Examination Council (NECO), through his days in JAMB till 2021.
Alleged N5.2bn fraud: Court asks ex-JAMB registrar, Ojerinde to pay N100,000 for witnesses’ transportation