In a landmark decision, the Bayelsa State High Court has convicted Professor Saviour Nathan Agoro, the former Provost of Isaac Jasper College of Education, Sagbama, and the institution’s former accountant, Perez Lakemfa, over a staggering N285 million fraud.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) successfully pursued charges under sections 12 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
The charges included Agoro knowingly acquiring direct private interest in a contract awarded to a company where he is a director.
The presiding judge, Justice D.E Adekeme, found Agoro guilty on multiple counts, spanning the awarding of contracts to his companies and those owned by relatives, a clear violation of due process and public procurement rules.
Arocha and Dr Agada Akogu, the ICPC’s prosecutors, highlighted that the investigation, initiated in May 2017 following a petition, revealed Agoro’s personalization of TETFund funds. Contracts spanning 2012 to 2014 were awarded to companies linked to Agoro and his relatives, demonstrating a blatant abuse of authority.
Notably, the contract for the construction of a language laboratory and music studio was awarded to a company owned by a friend of Agoro and Lakemfa, further underscoring the web of corruption surrounding the case.
Construction and supply contracts were also found to be directed to companies owned by the defendants’ family members.
In response to the conviction, Justice Adekeme handed down non-custodial sentences. Professor Agoro was fined N1 million, with Lakemfa receiving a fine option of N100,000.
This verdict sends a strong message about the consequences of corruption within educational institutions and the commitment of law enforcement agencies to root out such malpractices.
The ICPC’s success in this case signifies a step towards accountability and transparency in the management of public funds, setting a precedent for similar cases across the country.
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