By Emanuel Isijola.
A Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital on Tuesday sentenced a Professor of Plant Reading and former Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, Professor Benjamin Ogunmodede to 40 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
Also sentenced alongside Ogunmodede are Mr. Zackeus Tejumola and Adenekan Clement.
While Ogunmodede is a Reverend of Anglican Church, Mr. Tejumade and Adenekan were chief accountant and staff of the institution during Ogunmodede’s tenure as Executive Director.
The trio were charged on 16-count-charge bordering on conspiracy, unlawful conversion, and stealing of school subversion.
Justice Ayo Emmanuel who deliver the judgement said the forty years each for the trio will run concurrently.
He said that the accused diverted over 177 million Naira from 600 million Naira received as subversion from the federal government to pay salaries of worker and execute certain projects in the institute, adding that they did not follow due process even in some executed projects.
Justice Emmanuel said during the proceeding, the accused persons while cross examining them and the evidences presented before the court showed clearly that they were guilty of the charges.
He noted that the defendants had said they use part of the money to bribe members of House of Representatives and some staff of the federal ministry of finance after they facilitated release of the fund for the institution.
Justice Emmanuel said bribe and money laundry were prohibited in the country, adding that it is a punishable offence under the law.
He noted that the reason for the punishment is to serve as deterrent for those who are contemplating on mismanaging public fund and rehabilitation source for the accused.
“It must be bore in mind that the primary of judicial sentencing is to serve as deterrent for those with such similar criminal tendencies. And for rehabilitation of the accused. The two reasons are sociological in nature.”
Counsel to the EFCC, Barr Nkereuwem Anana while speaking with journalists noted that the judgment was an indication that Nigeria aimed at getting rid of corruption in the land.
He commended the court for the judgment, saying it will serve as deterrent for other public office holders who are embezzling public funds.
On his own part, counsel for Ogunmodede, Mr. Tunde Olupona said the judgment was very fair to all the parties adding that the legal team will have a review of the judgment and see the way forward.