The justice of a federal high court in Abuja, Obiora Egwuatu, says he did not sign the warrant for the re-arrest of Dibu Ojerinde, former registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), TheCable reports.
Ojerinde was arrested in Abuja on January 26, at the premises of a federal high court.
On July 6, 2021, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) arraigned Ojerinde on an 18-count charge bordering on alleged misappropriation of funds to the tune of N5.2 billion while in office.
The commission alleged that the former registrar committed multiple frauds while heading JAMB and the National Examination Council (NECO).
Ojerinde pleaded not guilty to the allegations and was granted bail in the sum of N200 million.
Citing new evidence uncovered in relation to his ongoing trial over alleged diversion of funds, the ICPC re-arrested the former JAMB registrar.
At a court hearing, Jimoh Olabisi, a former deputy director at JAMB, alleged that Ojerinde used him to divert federal government funds.
The ICPC also said its operatives uncovered two accounts opened in the names of Trillium Learning Centre Ltd and Sapati International Schools Ltd, into which funds were diverted using fictitious names of students.
The fresh charges against the former JAMB registrar include alleged forgery of documents, stolen identity, money laundering, and concealment of gratification.
‘NO JUSTIFICATION FOR RE-ARREST’
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Ebenezer Shogunle, counsel to the ICPC, told the court that Ojerinde was re-arrested on suspicion that he might have committed some other offences not unconnected with the present charges before the court.
According to Shogunle, the commission “obtained a warrant of this honourable court dated 6th of December, 2022” in pursuit of the matter.
He also said Eteya Ogana, Ojerinde’s lawyer, had been cooperative with the investigation process.
Although Shogunle did not mention the judge who issued the warrant, he said the fresh investigation was about 90 percent complete.
Reacting, Ogana accused the ICPC of arrest his client without a warrant.
He said the ICPC intercepted them and took Ojerinde away under the guise of an invitation for an explanation, adding that his client had been held in the agency’s custody since the incident.
“This morning, he came from their custody,” Ogana said, adding that he was not aware of any arrest warrant.
“My friend made mention of warrant of this honourable court. We are not in the know, sir. We don’t have such order and the defendant has been enjoying bail graciously granted by this honourable court as well as the one granted in the proceeding in Minna,” NAN quoted Ogana as saying.
“There is no evidence before this court or any court to show that the defendant violated the terms of bail granted to him. We, therefore, submit that the defendant be allowed to continue with the bail.”
The judge then asked the ICPC lawyer: “You said this court granted your application for arrest warrant? And I didn’t sign any. Which court?”
Shogunle responded, saying: “I will not join issue with him for his principal is not here, my lord.”
He added that Ogana’s claim that he was not aware of any arrest was “simply a matter between himself and the defendant”.
The ICPC counsel, however, explained that the warrant was served on Ojerinde, who was “required to have a solicitor of his choice present”, adding that the ex-JAMB registrar chose I.L.S. Law Firm where two lawyers — B.A. Oyefeso and one Mr Adebisi — had visited him in custody.
“Oyefeso specifically told us he is acting on behalf of the learner silk,” Shogunle said, after which he sought leave of the court for a reconsideration of the bail granted to Ojerinde.
The judge declined to grant the request, saying since the application was not in the court’s record, “I can’t do that orally”.
The matter was thereafter adjourned till March 20 for continuation of trial.