By Taiye Agbaje
Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, former Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), has sued the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) for alleged unlawful arrest.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ojerinde, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/179/2023 filed before Justice Obiora Egwuatu, is seeking an order to enforce his fundamental rights, following his re-arrest on Jan. 26 within the court premises and his subsequent detention.
The matter, which was listed on Monday’s cause list alongside the earlier money laundering suit filed against him by the anti-corruption commission, could not proceed.
This was due to the governorship and state assembly election break granted to the judges by the FHC Chief Judge, Justice John Tsoho, which lasted till today.
While Ojerinde suit was adjourned until May 4 for mention, his trial was fixed for the same date for hearing continuation.
ICPC had accused the ex-JAMB boss of diverting public funds to the tune of N5billion and was dragged to court for 18-count money laundering suit.
It would be recalled that Ojerinde was, on Jan. 26, re-arrested by the operatives of the anti-graft commission while he was heading to his car with one of his sons, after trial Justice Egwatu adjourned further proceedings in the charge preferred against him.
ICPC lawyer, Ebenezer Shogunle, on Feb. 15, notified the court that Ojerinde was re-arrested on suspicion that he might have committed some other offences not unconnected with the present charges before the court.
He said for this reason, the commission “obtained a warrant of this honourable court dated 6th of Dec, 2022,” for the ex-JAMB registrar’s re-arrest.
Although Shogunle did not mention the judge from whom the warrant was obtained, he, however, said that the fresh investigation exercise was about 90 per cent complete.
Eteya Ogana, who appeared for Ojerinde, disagreed with Shogunle on his client’s re-arrest.
He said on the last adjourned date after the proceeding, the operatives of ICPC intercepted them and took Ojerinde away under the guise that they were inviting him for an explanation.
The lawyer said his client had been in the commission’s custody since the re-arrest.
“This morning (Feb. 15), he came from their custody,” he had said.
Ogana said despite that Ojerinde did not breach the bail terms, they were not served with the warrant before he was re-arrested.
“My learned friend made mention of warrant of this honourable court. We are not in the know sir.
“We don’t have such order and the defendant has been enjoying bail graciously granted by this honourable court as well as the one granted in proceeding in Minna,” he said.
The lawyer argued that if there were uncovered evidence against his client, ICPC was at liberty to file additional proof of evidence and not to re-arrest him.
“There is no evidence before this court or any court to show that the defendant violated the terms of bail granted to him,” he had said.
Ogana also said that they were unaware of move to engage in plea bargain contrary to Shogunle’s submission.
Justice Egwuatu, who said he couldn’t recall signing any arrest warrant, asked Shogunle, “You said this court granted your application for arrest warrant? And I didn’t sign any. Which court?”