A former Director-General of the Ibadan-based Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Benjamin Ogunmodede, was on Tuesday sentenced to 40 years in jail for corruption.
A Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State convicted and sentenced Ogunmodede, a professor of agriculture, to 40 years’ imprisonment without an option of fine for mismanaging funds meant for the payment of salaries and execution of projects in the school.
Also sentenced along Ogunmodede were two others, Zackeus Tejumola and Adenekan Clement, former Chief Accountant and a staff with the research institute respectively.
While the DG and the Chief Accountant were sentenced to 40 years imprisonment, the staff was sentenced to four years in jail.
“Ogunbodede and Tejumola are therefore sentenced to 40 years imprisonment each for their roles for counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16,” the judge, Justice Ayo Emmanuel said, adding that the sentences will, however, run concurrently and are without the option of fine.
The trio had been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2011 on 16 counts bordering on conspiracy, unlawful conversion and stealing of school subvention, among others.
They 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.
In their defence, the convicts claimed 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.
But Justice Emmanuel ruled that Ogunmodede and others were clearly guilty of the charges preferred against them.
He said bribery and money laundering were illegal and had been prohibited in the country, adding that they were punishable under the law.
The judge said the sentence would serve as a deterrent to public office holders who are contemplating on mismanaging public funds.
“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.