The trial of the former Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, Prof Dibu Ojerinde, and his four children on money laundering charges has again been postponed at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The trial was held off on Wednesday by Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo following a plea for an adjournment by another, Ahmed Raji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who has just been engaged by some of the defendants in the criminal charges.
At Wednesday’s proceedings, lead counsel to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission, Ebenezer Sogunle, informed the judge that his witnesses were in court and that he was ready to proceed with the trial.
However, Raji ,l, who announced an appearance for four of the ten defendants, told the Judge that he had just been engaged to take up the defence of his clients.
He pointed out that voluminous documents have just been handed over to him, which required time to be studied before taking a position.
Besides, Raji stressed that the proof of evidence has yet to be served on him by ICPC as required by law.
Raji pleaded with Justice Ekwo for an adjournment to allow him to do the needful for his clients in the interest of justice.
ICPC counsel confirmed that the proof of evidence had not been served because the senior lawyer was appearing for the first time in the case.
He did not object to the request for an adjournment to enable the defence to prepare for the trial.
However, Justice Ekwo raise concern over the chains of adjournment suffered by the trial and warned that there would be consequences should another request be made for adjournment by any lawyer in the matter.
The Judge thereafter fixed February 19, 20, 21 and 22 for accelerated trial of the criminal charges.
A similar fate occured during the trial on Monday when Ibrahim Isiyaku, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria,, sought an adjournment before Justice Ekwo to enable him to make proper arrangements for another batch of defendants.
ICPC had, on June 15, arraigned the ex-JAMB registrar on charges of official corruption and abuse of office.
In a charge marked FHC//ABJ/CR/119/2023, Ojerinde was arraigned alongside four of his children namel, Mary Ojerinde, Olumide Ojerinde, Adebayo Ojerinde and Oluwaseun Ojerinde as the eighth to 11th defendants.
Also joined in the 17-count charge are six companies linked to him, namely Doyin Ogbohi Petroleum Limited, Cheng Marbles Limited, Sapati International Schools Limited, Trillium Learning Centre Limited, Standout Institutes Limited and Esli Perfect Security Printers Limited as 2nd to 7th defendants, respectively.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the counts preferred against them and were granted bail by the court.
In the 17 charges, ICPC alleged that the former JAMB boss connived with three of his children, Oluwaseun Ojerinde, Olumide Ojerinde, and Adebayo Ojerinde, to sell off property worth $150,000 after it had been forfeited to the Federal Government by a court order.
The property is at House No. 4 Ahomko Drive, Achimota Phase 2, Accra, Ghana.
The prosecution also accused Ojerinde of incorporating companies and taking up simultaneous appointments as chairman and director while being a public officer on full-time appointment as registrar and chief executive of the National Examinations Council, Minna and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, Bwari, Abuja.