The long arm of the law caught up with a former Director General of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Prof. Benjamen Ogunmodede and others on Tuesday when they were sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment without an option of fine by a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, for mismanaging funds meant for the payment of salaries and execution of projects in the school.
Two workers at the account section of the institution, Zacheus Tejumola and Adenekan Clement, were jailed along with Ogunmodede.
They had been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2011 on 16 counts bordering on conspiracy, unlawful conversion and stealing of school subvention, among others.
Justice Ayo Emmanuel, who gave the ruling, sentenced the convicts to four years’ imprisonment on each of the counts they were found guilty of.
However the judge said that they would spend the jail terms concurrently.
Ogunmodede and co-defendants were accused of diverting N177m out of a subvention of N600m released by the Federal Government for the school. The sum (N177m) was said to have been spent without due process.
The accused persons had unsuccessfully argued in their defence that a huge part of the amount was used to bribe members of House of Representatives and some workers of the Federal Ministry of Finance who facilitated the release of the fund for the research institute.
The judge was not impressed, ruling that Ogunmodede and others were clearly guilty of the charges preferred against them.
According to Justice Emmanuel, bribery and money laundering were illegal and are punishable under the law.
“We must have it in our mind that the primary reason for sentencing a guilty person is to serve as a deterrent to those with such similar criminal tendencies and for rehabilitation of the accused. The two reasons are sociological in nature,” he added.