The plea-bargain talks between Dibu Ojerinde, the immediate-past registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), and the prosecution over his ongoing N5.2billion fraud trial have collapsed.
The prosecutor, Ebenezer Shogunle, announced the breakdown of the negotiations at the resumed hearing of the case at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday.
Mr Ojerinde, through his lead defence counsel, Ibrahim Ishyaku, had, on Tuesday, pleaded with the judge to adjourn the trial for 24 hours to enable him to discuss the plea agreement with the Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the prosecuting agency.
Mr Ishyaku, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had told the judge, Obiora Egwuatu, that the trial could continue if the proposed plea agreement could not be arrived at within 24 hours.
The trial judge had then adjourned till Wednesday for either the report of the plea bargain or the continuation of the trial.
However, at the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, the prosecutor told the judge no plea agreement was reached after the talks between the parties.
“My lord, I regret to inform the court that there has been no plea-bargain agreement in this matter,” Mr Shogunle said.
He added, “We have therefore resolved to proceed with the hearing. We have witnesses in court and ready to proceed.”
The defence lawyer, Mr Ishyaku, also confirmed that his client was ready for trial.
The trial immediately started with the prosecution calling its first witness, identified as Peter Oyewole.
Mr Oyewole told the court that he worked as Mr Ojerinde’s personal counsel during which he assisted him to incorporate companies and purchase assets.
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The trial was ongoing as of the time of filing this report.
Mr Ojerinde was arraigned in July 2021 on 18 counts involving the alleged diversion of N5.2 billion in public funds.
The case is marked FHC/ABJ/CR/97/2021.
According to the ICPC, the former JAMB boss allegedly committed the offences contained in the charge from when he served as the Registrar of the National Examination Council (NECO) to his days at JAMB.
ICPC had in 2020 obtained a court order for the confiscation of various assets, including schools, filling stations, and houses traced to Mr Ojerinde.
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