In Ibadan Ex-director of IART gets 40 years jail term over N177M fraud

In a judgment which lasted over two hours, Ayo-Emmanuel said that he convicted the trio based on the overwhelming evidence against them.

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Prof. Benjamin Ogunbodede, Jalekun Omitowoju, Zacceaus Tejumola play

(R-L) Prof. Benjamin Ogunbodede, Jalekun Omitowoju, Zacceaus Tejumola

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Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel of  the Federal High Court, Ibadan, on Tuesday sentenced Prof. Benjamin Ogbunbodede, a former Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training(IAR&T), Ibadan,   to  40 years imprisonment  for  corruptly enriching himself  to the tune of  N177 million.

Zacheus Tejumola, a former  Chief  Accountant of the institute,  was also sentenced to 40 years imprisonment  while Clement Adenose, another staff,   bagged  four years in jail.

In a judgment which lasted  over two hours, Ayo-Emmanuel said that he convicted the trio based on the overwhelming evidence against them.

The judge, however, said that he had no reason to convict them on count 13  due to want of evidence.

There is no ambiguity in the facts tendered by the prosecution that the three convicts conspired, converted and stole the hazard allowance of  N177 million belonging to the staff of  IAR&T.

“Ogunbodede and Tejumola are therefore, sentenced to 40 years imprisonment each for their roles for counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16.

“Adenose is sentenced to four  years in prison. The sentences will,  however, run concurrently,” Ayo-Emmanuel stated.

Earlier, Mr Tunde  Olupona, the counsel to Ogunbodede, had pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing his client.

He  argued  that his client  lacked administrative experience in running such a sensitive position.

Similarly, Mr I.A  Salawu and Mrs Yetunde Adegboye,  counsel to Tejumola and Adenose, pleaded with the court to show mercy to their clients, citing various portions of the constitution.

However, Mr Nkwuruka Amana, the  counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,  urged the court to sentence the convicts in accordance with the stipulation of the law.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Ogunbodede, Tejumola and Adenose along with 10 others had since 2014 been standing trial over a 16-count charge  bordering on conspiracy, unlawful conversion and stealing of N177 million hazard allowance belonging to the staff of the institute.

Ten of the defendants  had earlier pleaded guilty and opted for plea bargain arrangement.

Nine out of the 10 previously convicted were different companies which Ogunbodede, Tejumola and Adenose indirectly used  to siphon the N177 million.

Olupona, who spoke after the judgment,  told NAN that he and his other colleagues were still studying the judgment and would  in due course take appropriate decision on whether to appeal or not.

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