BY VICTOR BUORO, ABUJA – The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Tuesday filed a N4.9 billion suit before an FCT High Court situated in Zuba, alleging diversion of official funds to personal use against the President, Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SCoN), Mr Joseph Agbenla.
Based on the file sheet, the ICPC is accusing Agbenla of having been a public officer with the Surveyors Council of Nigeria conferred corrupt advantage upon himself on December 19, 2017, when he received N2.5 million paid into his Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) Account Number 0108278960 through a bank transfer from one Ezekiel Okunola on behalf of the Council as Duty Tour Allowance (DTA).
The Anti-corruption agency said that the DTA was allegedly meant for monitoring and evaluation exercise to the South-south geo-political zone of the country but Agbenla failed to embark on the said tour and diverted the funds for personal use.
It further said that the accused, Mr. Agbenla, thereby committed an offence punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000.
Also, part of the allegations as filed by the ICPC state; “That you Surveyor Joseph Olorunjuwon Agbenla, on 19 April, 2018, conferred corrupt advantage upon yourself when you received the sum of N2,410,000 through your Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) Account Number 0108278960 through a bank transfer from one Ezekiel Okunolaon on behalf of the council.
“The money was to enable you attend the 2018 International Federation of Surveyors Conference in Turkey which you failed to attend rather claimed to have used the money for other personal purposes. You thereby committed an offence punishable under section 19 of the ICPC Act 2000.
“That you the defendant (Agbenla), dishonestly used the money (the N2.5 million DTA) for your personal use, which violates section 311 of the penal code and punishable under section 312 of the penal code.”
Accordingly, the ICPC declared that action of Agbenla violated the discharge of the trust of attending the said conference and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 312 of the penal code.
The Anti-graft Commission maintained that the SCoN’s President, on the two stated occasions, was involved in alleged breach of public trust in the performance of his official duties.
When the matter came up for mention, Mr Agbenla’s legal counsel, Mr O. Poroye Esq tendered an apology for the absence of his client in court, saying that the defendant was involved in an accident in Lagos during which he sustained injury.
Poroye therefore made an oral application for the court to adjourn the matter to enable the defendant appear in court for arraignment at the next adjourned date, adding that the defendant has been on an administrative bail granted him by the ICPC.
Responding, legal Counsel to the ICPC, Mr Evans Peters said the prosecution was not aware of the development, adding that there is no medical report to support the position of the defence counsel even though the defendant is on administrative bail by the ICPC.
He therefore urged the court to make condition that would compel the defendant to attend his trial on the next adjourned date.
In his ruling, Justice A. O Ebong adjourned the matter to February 10, 2020 for Agbenla’s arraignment.