Court adjourns Ajudua’s arraignment over alleged $1m fraud
Justice Josephine Oyefeso of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja yesterday ordered the arraignment a Lagos socialite, Fred Ajudua by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly defrauding a German company the sum of $1 million.
The judge ruled that Ajudua should be arraigned by the anti-graft agency but the defence team lead by Norrison Quakers (SAN) argued that the matter was not slated for arraignment.
Making his argument, he cited the case of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) V Ecobank, saying: “Trial starts when the defendant is arraigned. We have not been served with the charge and other processes. I have also spoken to the defendant and he confirmed that he did not see the charge. I will have to seek for a short adjournment to properly study the charge.
He further told court about his client’s poor health, noting that Ajudua had only one functional kidney which was deteriorating fast and that he needed time to seek medical attention.
In his response, EFCC Counsel, Seidu Atteh served the defendant’s counsel copies of the charge in the courtroom, saying the defendant can be properly arraigned before the court only when his plea was taken.
However, Quakers notified the court of some irregularities in the charge, stating that Ajudua was charged under the Penal Code and not the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011 which is presently used for criminal cases.
After listening to their submissions, the presiding judge granted Quakers’ request for an adjournment. She subsequently adjourned till May 16, 2017 for the EFCC to file a formal application for arraignment.
The EFCC had on February 13, 2017 re-opened Ajudua’s case of 2005. It had alleged that Ajudua was serial fraudster with one Joseph Ochunor as an accomplice. It stated that they had sometime in 1993 defrauded one Ziad Abu Zalaf of Technical International Ltd, a German-based company of $1million.
Sometime in 2009, Justice Morenike Obadina had struck out the case for want of diligent prosecution after Ajudua failed to appear in court on 24 occasions.
At the last proceedings, on March 13, 2017 Justice Oyefeso had adjourned till yesterday for ruling to determine if the case should be listed in the court for trial.
Earlier while delivery ruling, Oyefeso said the case was assigned to the court in November 2016 when the defendant was available within the jurisdiction.