Former Vice-Chancellor of Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State, Professor Adekunle Oloyede, has approached the State High Court, to set aside his conviction by an Ondo Chief Magistrate Court, sitting in Akure.
Prof. Oloyede is challenging what he described as “wrongly been adjudged guilty” by the Chief Magistrate Court.
In a judgment delivered on 25th January 2023, Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Aderemi Adegoroye, found the Australia-based Professor of Medical Engineering guilty of all six-count charge of conspiracy to steal, obtain by false pretence the sum of Seven Hundred and Twenty Dollars ($720,000.00) on 3rd March 2015 under the pretext of constructing 500-bed space hostel at Elizade University, using panel building technology from Australia.
Oloyede was also accused of obtaining another Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00) on 28 April 2017 from Mike Ade Investment Limited for Duro Global Property Limited for the same purpose of constructing a 500-bed hostel.
He was equally alleged to have obtained another One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($150,000.00) on 19 May 2015 from Omimeje Resources Limited for Duro Global Property Limited for the same purpose of constructing a 500-bed hostel.
Prof. Oloyede was also charged for another Six Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($650,000.00) from Elizade Investment Limited for the same purpose.
According to the Ondo State Director of Public Prosecution represented by Mr. O.E Akintan, the alleged offence was contrary to and punishable under Section 419 of the state Criminal Code.
Prof. Oloyede pleaded not guilty.
However, at the trial, he insisted he did not connive with anyone but merely acted as an intermediary and introduced the two parties.
He claimed no knowledge of when Chief Michael Adeojo, owner of Elizade University, paid $720,000.00 or $250, 00.00 or $150, 000.00 to Duro Global Property Limited.
He told the Court that it was after Adeojo had sent the money that he (Chief Michael Adeojo) informed him about it. He also noted that he was not at the meeting where the parties agreed to the contract between them.
He said the reason the $650,000.00 was sent to him (which was the only money that passed through him) was because of his role under the Power of Attorney.
He also told the Court that Chief Adeojo paid $720,000.00, $250, 00.00 or $150,000 to Duro Global Property Limited. He said it was after Chief Adeojo had sent the money that he (Chief Michael Ade Ojo) informed him about it. He also said he was not at the meeting where the parties agreed to the contract between them.
However, Mrs. Adegoroye was not convinced of the evidence-in-chief of the ex-VC. She found him guilty and sentenced him to a cumulative eight years in prison with an option of a fine of Six Hundred Thousand Naira (N600,000.00) only.
Our correspondent reports that Professor Oloyede was not incarcerated as he opted for the fine option.
Meanwhile, dissatisfied with the decision of the court and determined to set aside the judgment, Professor Oloyede, through his counsel, Oke Olusola Esq. of Chief G. O. Ijalana Esq and Olusola Oke & Co of Graceville Law House, filed seven grounds of appeal.
Among others, Professor Oloyede insists Mrs. Adegoroye erred in law when she assumed jurisdiction to try the case notwithstanding that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case; that she reached a perverse decision when she relied on Exhibit p.28 to convict him; and that she further erred when she relied on substantive charge in count 3, 4, 5 and 6 which are on obtaining money under pretence to convict and sentence him on court 1, even though he was not charged with the offence of stealing.
Other grounds of appeal cited by Professor Oloyede are miscarriage of justice occasioned by the finding of the court that the purpose of the money was for the payment of building materials which creates a big doubt in the case of the prosecution. Professor Oloyede, on a final note, insists that the entire decision of the magistrate court is unreasonable, unwarranted and can not be supported having regard to the weight of evidence.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the application.
Meanwhile, we gathered that the suit leading to the earlier conviction was instigated by a thaw in the relationship between the erstwhile Vice-Chancellor and Chief Adeojo.