Lawyer: Ex-JAMB Registrar Ojerinde shielded firms, assets in ‘N5.2b fraud’
Peter Iyiola Oyewole, a personal lawyer to former Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Adedibu Ojerinde, yesterday told a Federal High Court in Abuja how his client disguised the ownership of companies and property he allegedly acquired with the N5.2 billion he is accused of diverting while in office.
Oyewole said Ojerinde did this by listing his children, friends and associates as directors and shareholders of the companies.
The lawyer, who was testifying as the first prosecution witness in Ojerinde’s trial, said some of the properties were acquired with others’ names while in some cases, the ex-JAMB boss altered his names.
In an instance, the ex-JAMB Registrar was identified as “Ojerinde Dibu,” as a director in one of the companies, while in another company, he was identified as “Ojerinde Akanbi.”
Led in evidence by Ebenezer Shogunle, a lawyer with the Independent Corrupt Practice and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Oyewole identified some of the companies as Oke Afin Boys and Girls Hostels Limited; Sapatti International School; Doyin Ogboyi Petroleum Limited; Cheng Marble Limited; Stand Out Institutes; Trillion Learning Centres Limited; Grace Petroleum Limited, and Ifelodun Communications Limited.
He said his decision to testify in the case was in compliance with an earlier order of the court and in a bid to fault Ojerinde’s claim that he did not instruct him (the lawyer) to buy the said property and register the companies.
The lawyer also told the court that he acted on instructions from Ojerinde, including the houses he bought for the defendants in his (the lawyer’s) firm’s name.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu adjourned till April 4 and 5 for the continuation of trial.
When taken through series of documents tendered as exhibits, the lawyer identified some shareholders and directors of some of the companies.
He denied knowing the owners of Osanta Micro Finance Bank, a popular community bank in the defendant’s home town, Igboho, Oyo State.
Oyewole, who said he is from the same town with the defendant, claimed that neither him nor his companies had investment in the bank.
A moment later, the prosecuting lawyer showed the witness a document containing names of the bank’s shareholders and their allotted shares.
Oyewole read out the names and the number of the shares allocated to the names, some of which turned out to include three of his (lawyer’s) companies.
They are: Artic Business Company, Enhanced Performance Limited and P. I. Oye and Associates, with each company allotted 5 million shares.
Ojerinde and a company – Dolaf Nigeria Limited – are also shareholders in the bank.
At the mention of the case, Shogunle told the court that the plea bargain talks between the parties had failed. And lead defence lawyer, Ibrahim Isiyaku (SAN), confirmed the development.
At the conclusion of Oyewole’s testimony, Isiyaku applied for time to study the documents tendered by the prosecution to enable him return to cross-examine the witness.