15th November, 2014
The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Friday granted bail to Fred Ajudua who is standing trial on charges of fraud to enable him to seek proper medical attention.
The court granted the bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum.
The court held that the sureties must have property worth N50 million in Lagos.
It also ordered that Ajudua signed an undertaking to remain in Nigeria throughout his trial, unless there was need for him to travel broad for treatment.
It set aside the ruling of an Ikeja High Court which refused a similar application by the appellant.
The lead judge of the appellate court, Justice Rita Pemu, granted the bail on the ground that only a living person could stand trial.
NAN recalls that Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of the lower court had refused Ajudua’s application.
The suit was filed against Ajudua by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over alleged fraud.
Ajudua was alleged to have defrauded former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, of about 8.4 million dollars.
In refusing his bail application, Ipaye had made reference to Ajudua’s antecedents in criminal matters before another Lagos State High Court, where he jumped bail and allegedly interfered with the court process.
Dissatisfied with the decision Ajudua through his lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo, appealed the ruling, urging the appellate court to set it aside.
Delivering the lead judgment, Pemu held that Ajudua could only stand for trial if preserved alive.
She held that the charge levied against Ajudua by the EFCC does not attract a capital punishment, and to that extent, was a bailable offence.
The court observed from the medical report presented at the lower court that Ajudua had been a patient at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, for kidney related illness as far back as 1987.
“He was already a sick man at the time the charge was filed against him, and the lower court turned a blind eye to the plight of the appellant.
“A man with just one kidney is a walking carcass; although his reputation is found wanting, he has not been convicted, and so, the court ought to show mercy as a result of his health challenges,” Pemu said.
On the claim by the EFCC that Ajudua will interfere with witnesses, Justice Pemu held that the anti-graft agency failed to show calculated attempt made by appellant to do so.
The court dismissed Ajudua’s appeal on the refusal of the lower court to allow him make extra-judicial statements in response to the allegations levied against him.
Pemu affirmed the decision of the lower court on the ground that Ajudua was given opportunity to make statements but he chose not to do so.
“It is the appellant’s constitutional right but he chose to waive it; the court cannot teach the police how to carry out its investigation; the court cannot also force a defendant to make a statement,” she said.
Ajudua, in his appeal, raised four issues for determination and urged the court to determine whether the lower court was right when it refused to admit him on bail in spite of his ill health.
He had argued that the facilities at the Kirikiri Maximum Prison were grossly inadequate and could not take care of his failing health.
He had urged the court to allow his appeal and set aside the ruling of the lower court.