ALLEGED N38M FRAUD: ICPC arraigns former IMT Rector

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ENUGU—Embattled former Rector, Institute of Management and Technology, IMT, Enugu, Prof. Edwin Onyeneje was yesterday, arraigned before a Federal High Court, Enugu Division for alleged N83 million fraud. Onyeneje and Dr. Leonard Ugwu were arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, on a seven- count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by tricks. The others arraigned for the alleged fraud were Mr Ferdinand Onah and Mr. Basil Offoh, who allegedly aided and abetted the fraud. The alleged amount was approved for the procurement of scientific equipment in preparation for re-accreditation of some programmes in the institution. Offoh was accused of aiding and abetting the release of N50 million to the former rector when he served as Administrative Secretary to the Rector, Onyeneje. Ugwu, who served as the Chief Store Officer, CSO, of the institution allegedly released N53.2 million to the former rector for a project which was not executed. The offences contravened Sections 8 (a) and 1 (1) (a) and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006. The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges. The defence Counsel, Mr Benedict Chijioke, objected to the arraignment, contending that there was a judicial panel of enquiry on the matter. “If we allow a situation where a court is sitting and the ICPC is doing whatever they are doing, it means independence of the judiciary is just a robot,” he said. Chijioke told the court that the accused persons were already on administrative bail of the ICPC and would always attend their trials. In her ruling, Justice Dugbo Oghoghorie, announced that the administrative bail of the accused would continue. Oghoghorie adjourned the matter till April 14 for the hearing of the preliminary objection raised by the defence. It would be recalled that former governor Sullivan Chime had at the twilight of his tenure, inaugurated a judicial panel of enquiry following public outcry on the leadership of IMT inorder to recommend appropriate sanctions and advice government on ways to sanitize the institution. The panel was then,given three months to make its report public but nothing was heard of the outcome.

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