Ajudua's trial stalls as judge withdraws from case
The trial of a one-time Lagos socialite, Fred Ajudua, before an Ikeja High Court, is to start afresh before Justice Kudirat Jose following the withdrawal of the former trial judge, Justice Joseph Oyewole, from the case.
Ajudua and one Charles Orie are being prosecuted for allegedly defrauding two Dutch businessmen; Messrs Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, of 1.69 million US dollars (about N252.8 million).
Oyewole’s withdrawal was said to be in connection with a petition written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (rtd).
Bamaiyi had alleged in the petition that Ajudua used the names of the judge and others to defraud him of about $8.39 million (N1.3 billion).
However, the re-arraignment of the defendants before Jose was stalled on Tuesday due to the absence of the EFCC counsel, Mr Wemimo Ogunde (SAN).
Ajudua and his counsel, Mr Richard Ahonaruogho, were in court for the proceedings, but the second defendant (Orie) was also absent.
The judge consequently adjourned the matter to Feb. 5 for the re-arraignment and directed that hearing notices should be sent to Orie and the EFCC.
The defendants were earlier arraigned before Oyewole for allegedly committing the offence between July 1999 and September 2000.
The case, which had proceeded to trial, was stalled after Ajudua, who was granted bail on medical grounds, absconded in 2005.
On June 11, 2013, Ajudua voluntarily appeared before the court after almost an eight-year absence and was remanded in Kirikiri Maximum Prison by Oyewole.
He was, however, granted a N50 million bail by a vacation judge, Justice Ganiyu Safari, on grounds of ill-health.
Meanwhile, following the Bamaiyi allegation, the EFCC have charged Ajudua before Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye also of an Ikeja High Court.
The court has fixed Feb.12 for his arraignment on a 13-count charge of conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretences.
The case against Fred Ajudua has been in court in 2003.