EFCC Press Release: $1.69billion Fraud: Court Remands Ajudua In Prison

Mr Fred Ajidua

Mr Fred Ajidua

Justice Olubunmi Oyewole of a Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja on Tuesday, April 11, 2013, ordered that, Fred Ajudua, who is facing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over a $1.69Billion scam, be remanded in prisons custody pending arguments on bail applications brought by his counsel, Olalekan Ojo. Ojo had presented two applications before the court, one of which prayed the court to restore the bail earlier revoked in 2005. The bail was revoked by the court after Ajudua jumped bail and all efforts by the EFCC to make him appear for his trial proved abortive.

When the matter came up on Tuesday, Ojo also asked the court to vacate a bench warrant issued on Ajudua in December 2006. He said since the first defendant was present in court, the need for the warrant was no longer relevant.

He also prayed the court that in the event that the first defendant will be remanded in custody, the EFCC custody or the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LUTH where he is said to be receiving treatment as an out-patient, should be considered. He said medical facilities in the prison custody will not meet his client’s medical needs.

Counsel to the prosecution, Wemi Ogunde, SAN, however opposed the application. Ogunde said since Ajudua appeared in court, it would be necessary for him to explain to the court why he had refused to appear for trial seven years after the court granted him bail. He added that the case has taken too long owing to the continuous applications brought by the defense clinging to one excuse or the other in order to delay the commencement of the criminal trial. Ogunde continued that the case started in 2003 and ten years after, it ought to have either been concluded or near finishing if not for the delay by the defense. He then submitted that the defendant be remanded in prison custody.

“I appeal to your Lordship’s sense of justice to refuse these applications. This is a case whose trial commenced and got suspended since February 2005 because the first defendant was not present. I want you to act on the facts before you. You have revoked the bail because there is no reasonable reason for his absence. Based on that, I will ask your Lordship that the first defendant be remanded in prisons custody. The likelihood of the first defendant not coming for trial is high. We do not know what additional reasons will be brought. If he is not in the prison, your Lordship, his likelihood of non-appearance is higher. We have spent 10 years on this case. My Lord, I ask you to refuse the applications and remand the defendant in prison.” Ogunde submitted.
Justice Oyewole then ruled that Ajudua be remanded in prison custody but should be allowed access to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, to attend to his medical needs as an out-patient. He adjourned the matter to June 24,2013 for hearing on applications brought by the defense.
At the last adjourned date, the defense counsel, Ojo had informed the court that his client was back in the country. He brought another medical report before the court in which Ajudua was said to be sick. The counsel subsequently made another request for adjournment till a date in September; a request the court turned down.

The judge said the content of the medical report which stated that Ajudua is being treated for urinary tract infection does not indicate his whereabouts, the duration of his treatment and whether he is mentally fit to stand trial or not. Justice Oyewole then dismissed the request for a further adjournment and ordered that the suspect must face his trial. He consequently set June 11, 2013 for the defendant to appear, a move that necessitated Ajudua’s presence in court Tuesday.

Ajudua was granted bail on medical grounds in March 2006 by the court after he told the court that he was receiving treatment at Grant Medical Foundation, Pane , India . After securing the bail, he failed to make further appearance in court and all efforts to bring him to court was frustrated by his unending applications, a move that warranted the court to revoke the bail earlier granted and to also issue a bench warrant on him.

Wilson Uwujaren
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
11th June, 2013

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