The trial of Benjamin Ogunbodede, a professor and former Director- General, Institute of Agriculture Research and Training, Ibadan, Oyo State, and two others continued on Monday.
A prosecution witness, Toluola Tola-Ukaba, giving detailed account of how in connivance with his co-defendants, he used different company names to divert money meant for the payment of hazard allowance of the staff of the Institute.
Mr. Ogunbodede is being prosecuted alongside Zacheaus Tejumola, Adenose Clement and Jalekun Omotowoju on a 17-count charge of conspiracy, misappropriation and diversion of funds to the tune of N115million before Justice N. Ayo Emmanuel of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ibadan, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Trouble started when the Academic Staff Union of IARTA petitioned the EFCC, alleging that the former DG falsely claimed to have used N115million to pay hazard allowance to its members in December 2013.
They also alleged that, he claimed to have used N15million to harvest crops, when he actually spent N800,000 only.
Tola-Ukaba, an operative of the EFCC, while being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Nkereuwem Anana, said that the EFCC received a petition dated December 17, 2012 from the Joint Action Committee of Staff Union of the IART, Ibadan regarding the alleged offence.
“The team handling the matter wrote letters to different banks to furnish the Commission with necessary information regarding the transaction that occurred in the personnel emolument account of staff of the institute (IART),” Ms. Tola-Ukaba said.
According to her, the analysis of the information received from one of the banks, Access bank, showed that the Institute received subvention from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to the tune of N606 million in two tranches of N303 million in November and December, 2010.
“A transaction of N177million was initiated from the personnel emolument account to another account of the Institute titled ‘Staff Club Account’ domiciled in Access Bank and whose signatory were the 1st and 2nd defendants (Ogunbodede and Tejumola).
“A detailed statement of account of the ‘Staff Club Account’ revealed that N177million hit the account in two tranches of N81million and N96million. From this account, several withdrawals were made mostly via cheques,” Ms. Tola-Ukaba said.
She added that, “when the operatives of EFCC requested the cheques for the withdrawal from Access Bank, the following were discovered: the cheques were signed by the 1st and 2nd defendants; cheques totaling the sum N156million were drawn in the names of some companies belonging to Jalekan Omotowoju; cheques totaling N15million were drawn in the name of Kunle Ojo and N7.5million was drawn in the name of Adenose Clement”.
Further findings according to the witness showed that, N177million was moved from the personnel emolument account as hazard allowance for staff of the Institute which was never paid.
“The payments made to Omotowoju were not in respect of any contract awarded to him,” Ms. Tola-Ukaba added.
The case has been adjourned to January 16, 2017 for continuation of trial.
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