A former Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Adedibu Ojerinde has been ordered by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to pay the a sum of N100,000 in witness expenses for postponing his trial for alleged diversion of over N5.2 billion in public money.
THe presiding judge, Justice Obiora Egwuatu issued the order while deciding on a motion for delay filed by Ojerinde’s new counsel, Doyin Awoyale, on Friday.
When the matter was mentioned, lead prosecuting lawyer Ebenezer Shogunle stated the case had been set down for trial to begin and that the prosecution had three witnesses in court.
The defendant has just briefed Awoyale and others to represent him, he claimed.
He explained that because the prior defense lawyer left, the defendant’s new legal team needs time to get to know the case.
Sogunle opposed to Awoyale’s plea to shelve the court’s business for the day, stating that it was unfair to cancel the planned start of the trial after the prosecution had gone to the trouble of assembling its witnesses.
Shogunle claimed that one of the witnesses had traveled from Ibadan the day before at considerable danger.
He pointed out that the last three adjournments had been requested by the defense.
He did add, however, that if the court decides to allow the defense lawyer’s request, it should be on the condition that the defendant pay the prosecution witness’ expenses, as set forth 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.
Recall that Ojerinde was arraigned on an 18-count indictment on July 6 in a case designated FHC/ABJ/CR/97/2021, accusing him, among other things, of involvement in the diversion of public monies worth over N5.2 billion.
The prosecuting agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), claimed Ojerinde committed the alleged offenses in the accusation from his time as the Registrar of the National Examination Council (NECO) until his time in JAMB in 2021.