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Appeal court grants Ajudua bail in $1m fraud

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[FILE] Court

Justice Mohammed Garba of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has granted bail to a one-time Lagos socialite and businessman, Fred Ajudua, who is standing trial before a Lagos High Court for allegedly defrauding a Germany-based firm of $1 million 25 years ago.

Ajudua was previously charged before Justice Josephine Oyefeso of an Ikeja High Court before the case was re-filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and reassigned to Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court.

Upon his arraignment in July 6, 2018, Justice Dada turned down Ajudua’s bail application, which was premised on his failing health.

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Referring to an Appeal Court ruling of over four years ordering his trial to justify the position of the court, Justice Dada held that Ajudua has had sufficient time to treat himself but failed to do so. This case has suffered a series of adjournments on health grounds for 13 years. I am not persuaded because this case is one of the oldest in Lagos. Bail is refused and the defendant is to be remanded in prison custody,” she ordered.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, Ajudua’s lawyer, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), immediately filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division.

Ruling on the appeal, Justice Garba upturned the decision of Justice Dada stating that bail is a constitutional right, which the defendant ought to enjoy.

The judge ordered that Ajudua should continue on the terms of the previous bail granted him by Justice Oyefeso.

The EFCC had alleged that Ajudua conspired with one Joseph Ochunor, who is still at large, to obtain money by false pretences from Ziad Abu Zalaf of Technical International Ltd., a division of Mystic Company Ltd., a German-based company.

EFCC also alleged that with intent to defraud, Ajudua and Ochunor obtained $268,000 on April 2, 1993 from Zalaf and on May 12, 1993 again obtained the sum of $225,000 from Zalaf.

The commission further claimed that Ajudua and Ochunor, in a bid to give credence to the alleged scam, forged a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) receipt and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and presented it to the foreigner as genuine.

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