The withdrawal of the counsel to the former Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Adedibu Ojerinde on Wednesday stalled the commencement of his criminal trial before a Federal High Court, Abuja.
When the matter came up yesterday, Ojerinde’s counsel, Peter Olorunishola (SAN) informed the court of his withdrawal from the case.
Ojerinde, who was arraigned on July 6, 2021, on an 18-count charge, was accused of complicity in the diversion of over N5.2 billion of public funds.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), prosecuting Ojerinde on behalf of the Federal Government claimed the former JAMB Registrar committed the alleged offences contained in the charge from when he served as the Registrar of the National Examination Council (NECO), through his days in JAMB till 2021.
The prosecuting counsel, Ebenezer Shogunle, at the resumed proceedings yesterday informed the court that the case was set down for commencement of trial, for which he was prepared and has three witnesses in court.
Defence lawyer, Itieubong Usoroh (who said he held the brief of the actual defence lawyer (Olorunishola)), said Olorunishola has written the court about his decision to withdraw from the case and that he also needed time to address some issues surrounding the payment of his professional fees.
Usoroh said Olorunishola has therefore applied for a short adjournment to enable them to resolve all pending issues to allow for his formal withdrawal.
Shogunle, in his response, agreed that the defendant was entitled to a lawyer of his choice, but argued that such entitlement should not be exploited to delay the trial and urged the court to be guided by the provision of Section 393(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) in granting a short adjournment.
In his ruling, the trial Judge, Justice Obiora Egwuatu granted the defence counsel’s request for adjournment and adjourned till October 8, 2021, for commencement of trial.