11 years after commencement, trial of alleged serial fraudster, Fred Ajudua, to start afresh

[Photo: www.cknnigeria.com]

Mr. Ajudua has been accused of being a serial fraudster.

More than ten years after he was arraigned before a Lagos High Court, the trial of Fred Ajudua, alleged serial fraudster would begin afresh following the withdrawal of the judge.

Mr. Ajudua and Charles Orie are facing trial for defrauding Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, two Dutch businessmen, of $1.69 million (N287 million).

The trial would restart before Justice Kudirat Jose on February 5.

The duo was arraigned in 2003 before Justice Olubunmi Oyewole.

However, a petition by Ishaya Bamaiyi, a retired General and former Chief of Army Staff, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alleging that Mr. Ajudua, 52, used the name of Mr. Oyewole to defraud him of $8.39 million (N 1.4 billion), caused the case to be transferred from the judge.

The money was allegedly handed over to Mr. Ajudua in cash while both of them were in custody at the Kirikiri prison, Lagos.

Messrs Ajudua and Orie had been billed to be re-arraigned before the new judge on Tuesday, but the absence of Wemimo Ogunde, the EFCC counsel, stalled the proceedings.

Mr. Orie was also absent in court.

It was gathered that Mr. Ogunde and Mr. Orie’s counsel were not served the hearing notices.

Mr. Ajudua, who had been recuperating at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, was present in court.

A ‘runaway’ suspect

In 2005, two years into his trial, and with six prosecution witnesses having testified; the court granted Mr. Ajudua bail to seek medical attention in India over his kidney ailment.

Mr. Ajudua was never seen again until early 2013 when he made a surprise reappearance before a furious judge who promptly dumped him in prison, thwarting all efforts by his lawyers to secure his bail.

At his bail hearing last June, Mr. Oyewole rejected the plea of Olalekan Ojo, Mr. Ajudua’s lawyer, to remand him in the custody of the EFCC.

The judge also refused a second appeal to allow the alleged fraudster attend to his “illness” as an out-patient at LUTH under “the eagle’s eyes of designated EFCC’s operatives.”

“The first defendant ceased to be on bail since December 15, 2005, when his bail was revoked,” Mr. Oyewole had said.

“The case has been held up as the agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria have been unable to execute the warrant of arrest issued on him on January 24, 2005.

“The first defendant is hereby ordered to be remanded in Kirikiri Maximum prison,” the judge had ruled.

However, three months later, and through another judge, Ganiyu Safari, Mr. Ajudua succeeded in his bail application.

Mr. Safari, while setting his bail at N50 million, stated that the suspect “must be alive to face trial.”

Another fraud

On February 12, Mr. Ajudua would be arraigned before Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of the Ikeja High Court, Lagos, over the alleged defrauding of Mr. Bamaiyi.

Mr. Ajudua is being charged with 13 counts of conspiracy and fraud.

In his petition to the EFCC, Mr. Bamaiyi had alleged that the suspect, along with others, duped him of $8.39 million between November 2004 and June 2005.

Mr. Bamaiyi accused the suspects of swindling him of the money under the pretence of using it to persuade Mr. Oyewole, his trial judge, to release him from the Kirikiri Maximum Prison.

The retired army general, who had been arraigned for the alleged attempted murder of Alex Ibru, the publisher of Guardian Newspaper, was later freed when the judge ruled that the state could not prove its case against the accused.

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