The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned former Rector, Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, Prof. Edwin Onyeneje before a Federal High Court, Enugu Division for alleged N83 million fraud.
Onyeneje was arraigned alongside Dr. Leonard Ugwu, Mr. Ferdinand Onah and Mr. Basil Offoh on a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by tricks.
According to Vanguard, 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.
Ugwu, who served as the Chief Store Officer, CSO, of the institution during Onyeneje’s tenure allegedly released the sum of 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 defense Counsel, Mr. Benedict Chijioke, objected to the arraignment, contending that there was a judicial panel of inquiry on the matter.
He told the court that the accused persons were already on administrative bail of the ICPC and would always attend their trials.
“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.”
Justice Dugbo Oghoghorie ruled that the administrative bail of the accused would continue, adjourning the case to April 14 for the hearing of the preliminary objection raised by the defense.
Prof. Edwin Onyeneje and two other principal officers were sacked by former governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime appointing Prof. Mike Iloeje and Mr. Sylvanus Asogwa as Acting Rector and Registrar respectively.
The former governor also instituted a judicial panel of inquiry to look into the public outcry on the leadership of IMT, in order to recommend appropriate sanctions and advice government on ways to sanitize the institution.