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A former Vice Chancellor of Elizade University in Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State, Nigeria, Prof. Adekunle Oloyede, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment by an Ondo State Magistrate Court for $1.2 million fraud.
Justice Aderemi Adegoroye, on Sunday, found Oleyede guilty of six counts of false pretences, stealing, and fraud in relation to the anti-graft laws of the state.
The accused was said to have fraudulently obtained the sum of $720,000 for the construction of a 500-bed space at the school, while he also obtained the sum of $250,000, $150,000, and $620,000 at different times.
It was gathered that the money was collected from Mike Ade Investment limited for Duro Global Property under the false pretence of using the amount for the construction of a hostel for the institution.
The State Legal Officer, represented by Mr. O.E. Akintan, called the professor of medical engineering before the court and accused him of plots to steal and to get by false pretenses contrary, both of which are prohibited by section 516 of the criminal code.
According to the evidence presented in court, various sums totaling millions of dollars in foreign currency were sent into an account connected to Oloyede and his associates for the importation of panel for the construction of a dorm for university students.
The former vice chancellor was arrested and accused of fraud by the state government, the court heard, despite receiving paid for the panel and for the shipment of the materials from Australia to Ilara-Mokin in Ondo State.
However, the defendant denied the allegation of fraud and claimed that the matter before the court was contractual and not criminal in nature.
While refuting the fraud charge brought against him, Oloyede claimed that Chief Ade Ojo was impressed with his presentation of his innovative ideas for elevating the school to a global level.
He claimed that establishing a revenue-generating portfolio was one of his ideas, and that it was this idea that sparked the idea of the school opening a factory to produce panels for low-cost housing.
In contrast to the accusations made against the accused, Chief Kunle Ijalana, counsel for Oloyede, argued that the matter before the court was contractual in nature and not criminal in nature. He subsequently asked the court to dismiss the accusations.
It was gathered that on January 27, 2017, the troubled VC had visited the college in 2015 before being appointed as the second substantive Vice-Chancellor of the university in September.
Oloyede had observed a brand-new, $1.8 million project for a 512-bed male dormitory during the tour.
The institution claimed that Oloyede encouraged and persuaded Chief Michael Ade-Ojo, the university’s founder, to abandon the project and switch to a new technique dubbed PIR Panel Building Technology even though a contractor had already been dispatched to the site.
He said it would expedite building completion and enable it to be ready by August 2015 while also saving 40% of the initial contract amount.
Ade-Ojo had agreed to use it because he was intrigued by the new technology and thought the hostel would be ready by August 2015, when classes resumed that year.
Between March and July 2015, Ade-Ojo transferred a total of $1.2m to Duro Global PTY Ltd, an Australian business that Oloyede had recommended based on the advice of the incoming VC.
However, Justice Adegoroye ruled that the prosecution had shown the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and sentenced him to five years in prison with the possibility of an additional N350,00.00 fine.
The court also sentenced Oloyede to a further three years in jail, with the possibility of an additional N250,00 fine, and stated that the prison terms would run concurrently.
Justice Adegoroye ruled that in order to facilitate restorative justice as required by Section 290(6) ACJL of the State of 2015, the defendant must return the balance of $131,500 that was obtained from Chief Ade Ojo. If this is not done, the defendant must serve an additional year in prison.
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