Former Nigerian official admits giving lawmakers N50 million ‘gratification’

House of Reps
House of Reps

Benjamin Ogunbodede, a professor and former director of Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, has said that he gave N50 million to some members of the National Assembly.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the embattled former director is standing trial before a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan over alleged N177 million hazard allowance fraud.

Testifying before Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel, Mr. Ogunbodede named one Gbenga Makanjuola, the then house committee chairman on agriculture, as one of the recipients of the N50 million gratifications.

Mr. Makanjuola could not be immediately reached.

The former director, standing trial with two others, however, refused to mention names of other members of the committee, Senate members and officials of the Ministry of Finance who received the N50 million gratifications.

Mr. Ogunbodede stated that the sum served as a thank you gesture to the NASS members and others who facilitated the quick release of N606 million, which was the school’s grant from the Federal Government.

“Makanjuola was one of the House of Representative members from the South-West on the committee who was paid the gratification,” the ex-director said.

He further confessed that the school did not actually raise fund from philanthropists contrary to his earlier testimony in court.

Tendering the earlier statement which Mr. Ogunbodede had made before the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to EFCC, contended that the witness lied when he told the court that he raised money from the friends to execute some projects in the school.

The court also admitted in evidence many documents by various panels of inquiry that had indicted Mr. Ogunbodede.

However, Tunde Olupona, the defense counsel, opposed some of the submissions made by the prosecution.

Justice Ayo-Emmanuel adjourned the matter till April 7 for continuation of trial.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Mr. Ogunbodede, Zachius Tejumola and Clement Adenose have since 2014 been standing trial on multiple charges bordering conspiracy, forgery, conversion and stealing N177,571,609 million.

The amount was meant to pay hazard allowances of workers of the institution.

NAN reports that one other accused and his nine companies, earlier arraigned with Mr. Ogunbodede, in 2016 entered into a plea bargain and were indicted and consequently convicted.

The fourth accused, Jalekun Omitowoju, a contractor, and his companies, were allegedly conduits through which the former director embezzled the money. (NAN)

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