The federal government has charged the President of Surveyors Council of Nigeria, Joseph Agbenla, with fraud and corruption.
In a 4-count charge filed before an FCT High Court, Zuba, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) alleged that Agbenla, being a public officer with the Surveyors Council of Nigeria, conferred corrupt advantage upon himself.
Agbenla, a former Surveyor General/Permanent Secretary in Lagos State, was alleged to have received N2.5million from the council through one Ezekiel Okunola on December 17, 2017 as Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) and other expenses for a monitoring and evaluation exercise in the South-South region of Nigeria but failed to embark on the said tour, “but rather claimed to have used the money for other personal purposes, and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000”.
He was further alleged to have also received N2,410,000 from the council to enable him attend the 2018 International Federation of Surveyors conference which held in Turkey. He was however alleged not have attended the conference but rather claimed to have used the money for other personal purposes.
Agbenla, who was billed for arraignment on Tuesday, was however absent in court. His lawyer, O.O. Poroye, informed the court that his client was involved in an accident in Lagos and his doctor had advised him against traveling. He said his client only informed him of the development over a phone call. He therefore appealed to the court for an adjournment of the matter.
Prosecution counsel, Evans Peters, who initially opposed the application for adjournment on the premise that no medical report was tendered before the court to support the application, later agreed for the matter to be adjourned. He acknowledged that the defendant is currently enjoying an administrative bail granted to him by the Commission.
However, when Poroye informed that the funds that were the subject matter of the charge had been returned, the prosecution counsel countered that he was not aware of that and that if there was evidence to back up the claim, such should be tendered after arraignment of the defendant.
After hearing arguments from the counsel, the trial judge, Justice A.O. Ebong, adjourned the matter to February 10 for arraignment.