Justice Olatokunbo Majekodumi of an Abeokuta High Court on Friday adjourned the trial of Olusola Oyewole, the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, FUNAAB, till Feb. 9.
Mr. Oyewole; the institution’s Pro-Chancellor, Adeseye Ogunlewe; and the Bursar, Moses Ilesanmi, are standing trial on an 18 count-charge bordering on abuse of office, stealing and fraud to the tune of N409 million.
Mr. Ogunlewe is a former senator and a former minister of works.
Mr. Majekodumi adjourned the matter saying that the interest of justice demands time to get its facts to determine if the court has the jurisdiction to entertain the case or not.
Wale Adesokan, counsel to Mr. Ogunlewe, had brought an application seeking to quash his client’s name from the case, saying the court has no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Mr. Adesokan said that Counts 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8 deal with stealing while Counts 12, 13, 14 and 15deal with abuse of office.
He argued that that Count 1 did not provide details of what they alleged Mr. Ogunlewe stole.
“The count does not disclose the amount of money which they said the accused conspired to steal.
“Also counts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 alleged that the defendant “stole and fraudulently converted certain sum of money.”
According to him, Section 383(1) of the Criminal Code, Laws of Ogun State, provides that a charge cannot allege two offences: stealing by taking and stealing by conversion.
“The law frowns at that, it is not possible to do both stealing and conversion.
“Section 36(6)( a) is lacking in those counts, so those counts are unconstitutional,” Mr. Adesokan said.
He also contested Counts 12, 13, 14 and 15 which alleged abuse of office, saying that the matter could not be laid before the court except by the consent of a law officer.
Mr. Adesokan also raised observation that the signature on the application document of the EFCC was not signed by a legal practitioner.
But Benedict Ubi, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, opposed the application, insisting that the court had jurisdiction to try the accused persons.
Mr. Ubi argued that the facts which were raised by Mr. Ogunlewe’s counsel were not contained in their application and submission.
He, consequently, sought for an adjournment in order for them to respond to the motion seeking to quash Ogunlewe’s name from the trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the three principal officers of FUNAAB were arraigned on November 25 on 18 counts bordering on N409 million fraud.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charges and the court granted them N50 million bail each with two sureties each in like sum.