On Friday, a federal high court ordered the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to seize some properties belonging to Professor Dibu Ojerinde, a former JAMB Registrar.
POLITICS NIGERIA reported how a court judge ruled that the properties were suspiciously acquired with public funds, which represents proceeds of unlawful corrupt activities.
“An order of this Honourable Court is hereby made for the interim forfeiture to the Federal Republic of Nigeria of all the immovable properties listed in A attached to the affidavit in support and marked by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) upon reasonable suspicion that each of the said properties was acquired with public funds and/or represents the proceeds of unlawful corrupt activities.
“An interim order of this Honourable Court is hereby made that the properties attached/forfeited ad-interim and be managed and controlled by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.”
However, some of the properties to be forfeited include Oke Afin Hostels located at Opposite Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State; Sapati International School buildings and premises located at Ajase Ipo Road, Ilorin, Kwara State; Doyin Filling Station along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; Doyin Gas, Ibadan, Oyo State; Soka Filling Station, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; Gravity FM Radio Station, Igboho, Oyo State and a few others.
Sequel to ICPC’s investigations, Mr Ojerinde, who had earlier headed two examination boards in Nigeria – National Examination Council, NECO, and Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB), violated public service rules when in active service.
Section of 2 (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria forbids a public servant to engage in private business, profession or trade except farming.
“Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, a public officer shall not, except where he is not employed on full-time basis engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade, but nothing in this sub-paragraph shall prevent a public officer from engaging in farming.”
POLITICS NIGERIA understands that Sapati International School, traced to Mr Ojerinde by the anti-graft agency, was founded in 2003, a time when he was the Registrar of NECO.
According to the records obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the learning facility, which operates boarding and day schooling, was registered on the 25th of June 2003. It was however inaugurated on the 22nd of October, 2003, in Ilorin, Kwara State capital.
As of 2019, the tuition fee in the private school owned by Mr Ojerinde was between N151 000 – N300 000. Up till the time of filing this report, the school is still operational. Moreover, Gravity FM, the radio station built Mr Ojerinde built in his home town, Igboho, Oyo state, was founded in when he was the Registrar of JAMB.
The privately-owned community radio can be found on 88.1 Frequency Modulation.
Although Mr Ojerinde left the examination boss in August 2016, the radio station has been in existence few months before then. It, however, began full operations early 2017. When contacted for comments on Sunday evening, the former JAMB Registrar did not respond to POLITICS NIGERIA’s calls or text messages.
Speaking to this paper on the stance of the law, a constitutional lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, emphasised that the law should be allowed to take its full course.
“The important thing is that the court has made an interim order. I know that the code of conduct, under the constitution, disallows public officers from engaging in such businesses while in service.”
Mr Effiong also explained that despite ICPC’s investigation, Mr Ojerinde is entitled to fair hearing.
“If ICPC has evidence as they have claimed, that those assets are proceeds of crime that will be a reason to ask for forfeiture. But since the order is interim, the man is entitled to apply to the court for either a vacation or variation of the forfeiture order. He is entitled to be heard.”
“If you have an interim order like in this case, those properties be taken by the government and the owner or supposed owners will be denied access but the owner, subsequently, has the right to tell the court to review the order. The commission also has right to apply to the court that the order be made perpetual.”
The legal professional noted that most illicit properties in Nigeria are acquired corruptly by proxy.
“Politicians hardly acquire properties in their names. The property may not be directly acquired by the person in the picture. Sometimes the properties are acquired by proxy. But in the course of inrvestigation, it will be possible to trace the owners,” He told POLITICS NIGERIA.