Former Director General of the Institute of Agricultural, Research and Training (IAR&T), Prof. Benjamen Ogunmodede, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison without an option of fine for mismanaging fund meant for the payment of salaries and execution of projects in the school.
Ogunmodede and two other former account staff of the institution – Zacheus Tejumola and Adenekan Clement – were sentenced on Tuesday by the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan.
They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2011 on 16 count charge bordering on conspiracy, unlawful conversion, stealing of school subvention among others.
They were accused of diverting and spending without due process, the sum of N177million out of a subvention of N600m released by the Federal Government for the school.
Justice Ayo Emmanuel ruled that each of the convicted persons would spend four years for each of the charges they were guilty of, adding however that they would spend the jail term concurrently.
In their defence, the convicted persons claimed that a huge part of the amount was used to bribe members of House of Representatives and some staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance who facilitated the release of the fund for the research institute.
But Justice Emmanuel ruled that Ogunmodede and others were clearly guilty of the charges preferred against them. He said that bribery and money laundering were illegal activities that had been prohibited in the country and that they were punishable under the law. The judge said that the sentence would serve as deterrent to people in public position who are contemplating on mismanaging public fund.
EFCC lead counsel, Nkereuwem Anana, said the judgment was an indication that the war against corruption was being won in the country, saying that the judgment would send a strong message to others who are mismanaging or embezzling public funds.
Counsel to Ogunmodede, Tunde Olupona, said that the legal team would review the ruling and decide on the next step.