$8.4m Fraud: Court Dismisses Ajudua's Objection To Trial

•Fred Ajudua1

•Fred Ajudua: Remanded in Kirikiri Prison

Henry Ojelu

Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of the Ikeja High Court Monday dismissed the application filed by alleged fraud kingpin, Fred Ajudua, against his $8.4 million fraud trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Ajudua is standing trial before the court for allegedly  defrauding  former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (retd.), of  about $8.395m while they were both in prison.

Ajudua, however, filed a preliminary objection to his trial, insisting the court had no jurisdiction to try him since he was charged under the repealed Advance Fee Fraud Act.

He also argued that Bamaiyi should stand trial along with him for admitting in his statement to the EFCC that he attempted to bribe a sitting judge.

Ruling on the objection Monday, Justice Ipaye held that EFCC was right in charging Ajudua under the repealed Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act of 1995, since the act was in force when the alleged crime was committed.

The judge also held that the argument by the defendant that the victim of the alleged crime was tainted cannot be a ground for dismissing the charge.

Justice Ipaye further held that facts about the credibility of the victim was not before the court.

Ajudua’s formal arraignment could not, however, proceed as his lawyer requested for time to study the charge.

The judge subsequently adjourned the  case till 11 March, 2014 for arraignment.

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The EFCC had alleged that Ajudua, along with others still at large, defrauded Gen. Bamaiyi of $8.387m between November 2004 and June 2005 while in prison.

Ajudua is the only defendant in the fresh charge as others who allegedly committed the offences along with him are said to be at large.

Other suspects said to be on the run are Alumile Adedeji a.k.a. Ade Bendel, Mr. Kenneth and Princess Hamabon William.

Ajudua, along with other suspects, were said to have defrauded Bamaiyi at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons where he and the other fraud suspects were on remand for various crimes.

EFCC claimed that the suspects had fraudulently collected the money from Bamaiyi instalmentally, falsely claiming that the payments represented the professional fees charged by

Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) to handle Bamaiyi’s case in court and to facilitate his release from prison.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that Ajudua and others fraudulently claimed that $1m out of the total money collected from Bamaiyi was for financial assistance for the treatment of Justice Olubunmi Oyewole’s father. Justice Oyewole was then presiding over Bamaiyi’s case in court.

The suspects were said to have claimed to Bamaiyi that Oyewole’s father was admitted at Saint Nicholas Hospital in Lagos and the $1m was meant to assist the judge in treating his father.

Ajudua is also standing trial in another court for allegedly defrauding two Dutch businessmen, Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, of US$1.69m (about N270m). The matter has been on since 2003.

At leastt 10 witnesses, including Gen. Bamaiyi (retd) and prison officials are expected to give evidence in the matter.