The Lagos High Court in Ikeja today dismissed the application of fraud kingpin, Fred Ajudua, to quash charges he defrauded two Dutch Businessmen, Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, of about US$1.69 million (N262 million).
In an application argued before Justice Oyewole yesterday, Ajudua’s lawyer, Allens Agbaka, requested the court to throw out the case against his notorious client on two grounds. First, Mr. Agbaka claimed there was a directive from the Attorney General that the court should discontinue the charge against Ajudua. The lawyer went on to state that Mr. Cina, one of the duped persons who is also enlisted by the prosecution as a witness, had indicated his interest in May 2011 not to pursue the trial any further.
In his ruling, Justice Oyewole said he had not received any such directive from the Attorney General of the Federation. Oyewole also held that Mr. Cina must appear before him, as failure to testify would cause him severe legal punishment.
Throwing out Ajudua’s application Mr. Oyewole described it as ‘strange’, stating that it amounted to an abuse of the court process after the prosecution had already led some witnesses in evidence since the arraignment of the suspect 10 years ago.
Ajudua was arraigned in 2003 for defrauding the two Dutch businessmen between July 1999 and September 2000 and impersonating the Auditor-General of Nigeria, Isa Audu, in the process. After his arraignment in 2003, Ajudua’s trial for fraud became inconsistent. He was granted medical bail in 2006, following which he had disappeared and failed to appear for trial.
In his first appearance this month, Ajudua’s lawyer requested the court to suspend the trial on health grounds, a routine ploy used by privileged suspects of financial crime in Nigeria aimed at prolonging a case or making it disappear in the mists of time.
In an objection to Ajudua’s claim of health problems prosecution lawyer, Wemimo Oyewole (SAN) argued yesterday that a mere claim without evidence was not acceptable.
Following that, in a desperate attempt to back up the claim this morning, Mr. Agbaka presented a report from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital [LUTH], stating that Ajudua had issues with his health and presenting a referral letter from LUTH to an Indian hospital.
But Mr. Ogunde responded that an acceptable letter would be one from the ‘Indian Hospital’ where he is purported to be receiving the treatment and not a referral letter from LUTH.
It may be recalled that in 2006, Mr. Ajudua told the court that he was receiving treatment at Grant Medical Foundation, Pane, India and had been granted medical bail. Thereafter, and for eight years, he simply disappeared.
An X-ray scan report presented before the court in the renewed argument indicated that Mr. Ajudua was in LUTH in December last year. But Justice Oyewole said in his ruling that it was curious that Mr. Ajudua, despite visiting LUTH, did not appear in court for his trial even though both the hospital and the court are located in same city.
On the claim of the AGF’s directive to stop the trial, Justice Oyewole said he had received no such directive, and that no evidence was presented by the defendant to corroborate his claim.
Ajudua’s application for another bail on the same grounds of health was adjourned to Thursday, June 27, for ruling.