N1bn fraud charge: Ajudua to know fate on March 3

By The Citizen

An Ikeja High Court on Thursday fixed March 3 for its ruling on an application filed by Fred Ajudua.

Ajudua, in the application, is asking the court to quash the N1 billion fraud charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissio.

Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye fixed the date after hearing arguments from both the EFCC and Ajudua's counsel on whether the charge should be dismissed.

Ajudua is being prosecuted for defrauding a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, of about $5.9 million (about N1 billion).

Moving the preliminary notice of objection, Ajudua's counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo, said the 14-count charge against his client was made under a repealed law.

Ojo said the defendant was charged under the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 1995 as amended by Act No.62 of 1999.

'It is my submission that a charge made under a repealed law is fundamentally defective and liable to be quashed.

'There is no legally convincing charge before Your Lordship that will allow the court to exercise any form of jurisdiction on this matter,'' he said.

Ojo said that Bamaiyi, in his petition to the EFCC, had disclosed self-confession to various crimes including conspiracy, aiding and abetting, money laundering and corrupting of public officers.'

'As a court with zero tolerance for illegality and corruption, Your Lordship has the inherent power to refer this admitted violation of the money laundering legislation to the appropriate authorities for investigation and possible prosecution,' he said.

Responding, the EFCC's counsel, Mr Seidu Atteh, urged the court to dismiss the application and ask Ajudua to take his plea.

Atteh argued that Section 6 of the Interpretation Act conferred validity on the charge against the defendant.

He said: 'Substantive Law is governed by the law in force as at the time the offence was committed.

'The repeal of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 1995 as amended by Act No.62 of 1999 does not affect the offence that was committed then.''

In the charge, the EFCC accused Ajudua of conspiring with others (now at large) to perpetrate the fraud between November 2004 and June 2005.

According to the EFCC, the defendant defrauded Bamaiyi while they were remanded at the Kirikiri Prison in Lagos.

The commission said Ajudua obtained the money from Bamaiyi, claiming that it represented the professional fees charged by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), to handle his case.

Ajudua was also alleged to have claimed that the money would help to facilitate Bamaiyi's release from prison. NAN