N177m Fraud: Court jails Agric Research Institute boss, Ogunbodede for 40 years

Ogunbodede

From right, Prof. Benjamin Ogunbodede. Jalekun Omitowoju. Zacceaus Tejumola and Adenose Clement, when they were arraigned on October 30, 2014. PHOTO: TheNew

A Federal high court sitting in Ibadan on Tuesday sentenced a former Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, Prof. Benjamin Ogbunbodede, to a 40-year jail term for corruptly enriching himself to the tune of N177 million.

The trial judge, Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel who handed down the verdict after convicting him also sentenced  Zacheus Tejumola, a former Chief Accountant of the institute, to 40 years imprisonment while Clement Adenose, another staff, bagged only four years jail term.

In a judgment which lasted over two hours, Justice 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.

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“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 in 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, in his allocutus, 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.

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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.

It would be recalled 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 with NAN said 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.