Fred Ajudua, also known as Isa Audu
On Wednesday, Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja fixed the trial of serial fraudster Fred Ajudua for April 28 and 29. Justice Kudirat Jose also fixed February 20 for hearing of the bail application filed by the defendants.
Mr. Ajudua and his co-defendant Charles Orie are facing trial for defrauding Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, two European businessmen, of $1.69 million (N287 million).
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is accusing Messrs Ajudua, Orie, Rasheed Adekunle, Abisola Fawehinmi, and Stephen Joiner (the last three are still at large) of committing the crime between 1999 and 2000.
Mr. Ajudua, who is also known as Isa Audu, and the others allegedly obtained the money from the businessmen as sundry payment to various government officials for payment of an $18 million contract.
Both defendants were first arraigned on 24th July, 2003, before Joseph Olubunmi Oyewole. But Mr. Ajudua’s disappearance during trial in 2007, after he was granted bail to seek medical check-up overseas, stalled the trial until early last year.
After his surprising reappearance, Mr. Oyewole declined to free him on bail, forcing his lawyers to approach another judge, Ganiyu Safari, who granted his bail request.
On Wednesday, Olalekan Ojo, Mr. Ajudua’s lawyer, told the judge that his client has been suffering from a life-threatening illnesses since last year.
Mr. Ojo appealed to the judge to exercise her discretionary power and allow his client to continue on the N50 million bail granted by Justice Safari.
Olumuyiwa Balogun, counsel to the EFCC, argued that since the trial was starting afresh, the defendants ought to file fresh applications for bail.
Mr. Balogun said that while the prosecution would not object to any bail application filed by Mr. Orie – who had never missed trial since his bail in July 2004 – the same position would not be taken for Mr. Ajudua.
The judge adjourned till February 20 for bail hearing after Mr. Ojo filed his application.
Yet 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 former Chief of Army Staff, Ishaya Bamaiyi.
Mr. Ajudua is being charged with 13 counts of conspiracy and fraud in that case.
In his petition to the EFCC, Mr. Bamaiyi had alleged that the suspect, along with others, duped him of $8.39 million (about N1.3 billion) 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.
When the charges were read to him today, he pleaded not guilty to the allegations.