The corruption trial of the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, FUTA, Adebiyi Daramola, was on Monday stalled following the withdrawal from the case by the trial judge, Ademola Bola.
The judge’s withdrawal followed a petition by the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, FUTA branch and other unions in the university, alleging that the judge was biased.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, filed a nine-count charge against Mr. Daramola, alongside the institution’s Bursar, Ayodeji Oresegun, bordering on abuse of office, conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence.
The judge, while describing the petition as “frivolous,” transferred the case to another judge for continuation on March 30.
Shortly after counsel had announced their appearance, Mr. Bola drew the attention of the court to the petition which accused him of bias and “being tele-guided by a certain person” on the case.
The judge who was obviously angry by the allegation, said the petition by FUTA Joint Action Committee, comprising Non Academic Staff Union of Universities, SSANU and NAAT, was the first of such against him in his eight years as a chief magistrate and 15 years as a judge.
While calling on the union leaders, namely Bayo Aladerotohun, Dele Durojaye and Omoraka Ejiro to confirm they actually wrote the petition, only Mr. Aladerotohun of NASU was physically present in court.
Mr. Aladerotohun insisted they stood by their petition when the judge gave him an opportunity to review their position.
The judge then announced his withdrawal from the case, after stating that he would never compromise his integrity as a judicial officer.
In his reaction, counsel to EFCC, Benedict Ubi, expressed disappointment over the development, adding that the commission was not aware of the petition as it had prepared four witnesses in readiness for the case.
The counsel to the Vice Chancellor, Adebayo Adenipekun, said the action of the unionists was to sabotage the case despite not being parties to the matter.
Mr. Aladerotohun, on his part, said the unions were interested parties, being the ones who wrote the petition that led to the trial by EFCC.
Mr. Daramola and the unions have been at loggerheads since 2015 after some of their members were sacked following a new Federal Government policy on the running of university staff schools.
The unions insist that following the indictment and trial of the vice chancellor, he should be suspended until the case was dispensed with.
They also made attempts to thwart the last Saturday’s convocation ceremony, rejecting the presence of the professor at the occasion, since he was still facing his corruption charges.
Heavy security deployment at the convocation ceremony ensured the event held as scheduled.