The former Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Adedibu Ojerinde has been ordered by a Federal High Court in Abuja to pay N100,000 as witness’ expenses for stalling proceedings of trial over an alleged diversion of over N5.2billion public funds while in office.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court, Abuja gave the order while ruling on Friday in an application for adjournment made by Ojerinde’s new lawyer, Doyin Awoyale.
The lead prosecuting counsel, Ebenezer Shogunle, said the case was set down for the commencement of trial, and that the prosecution has three witnesses in court.
Awoyale said himself and others have just taken over the case from the former defence lawyer and that they will need proper time to be briefed and to study the case file.
Awoyale 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 all the way from Ibadan saying it will be unjust to postpone the hearing.
He, however, added that should the court chose 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.
Delivering his verdict, 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 thereafter adjourned the case to 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 by the Independent Corrupt Practices & other related offences Commission (ICPC) for complicity in the diversion of public funds estimated at over N5.2billion.