$1.6 m fraud: Absence of key witnesses stalls Ajudua’s trial
The absence of key witnesses in the on-going trial of socialite and Lagosbased lawyer, Fred Ajudua, stalled further proceedings at a Lagos State High Court, sitting in Ikeja yesterday.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Ajudua over allegation of defrauding two Dutch businessmen to the tune of $1.69 million.
Ajudua and one Charles Okorie were arraigned before Justice Joseph Oyewole in July 24, 2003, for allegedly defrauding Messrs Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen between July 30, 1999 and Feb.9, 2000. The matter was however stalled for almost 10 years as the defendants failed to show up in court. The duo were re-arraigned last month before Justice Kudirat Jose on the same allegations.
But at the resumption of trial yesterday, EFCC lawyer, Chief Ogunde Wemimo, told the court that some of the prosecution witnesses who reside abroad were not in the country because the commission was unsure of how that matter would proceed.
He noted that the defence counsel led by Olalekan Ojo had last Friday, April 25, 2014, served the commission with a process for stay of proceeding but later called to say that it was served in error.
He said it was that incident that prevented the commission from extending invitation to the witnesses to travel down to Nigeria.
The counsel said EFCC was also trying to avoid a repeat of the situation where witnesses travelled to Nigeria, but hearings were not held.
He subsequently asked for a 21 day period to enable the EFCC get the witnesses to attend the trial.
Counsel to the defendants, Olalekan Ojo, however opposed the request for 21 days adjournment, saying the period was too long. He argued that it would be wrong for the court to grant such a long adjournment when his client has been refused bail. He also contended that the fact that his chamber mistakenly served the EFCC with a wrong process was not enough excuse for the commission not to bring its witnesses to court.
Justice Jose overruled Ojo’s argument and adjourned the matter till May 23 for trial.