By Abdulwahab Abdulah and Jane Echewodo
The absence of a one-time Lagos socialite and businessman, Fred Ajudua due to alleged ill health Wednesday stalled his criminal trial for defrauding Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (rtd), a former Chief of Army Staff of $8.4million before an Ikeja High court.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was scheduled to open its case against Ajudua before Justice Josephine Oyefeso but the court was informed that the accused was attending to his health.
At the resumed hearing of the case, the prosecution counsel, informed the court that the first prosecuting witness, Lt Gen Bamaiyi was in court.
However, the defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo, presented to the prosecution an application for adjournment dated May 21.
Ojo, while praying for a new adjournment date, told the court that the defendant was still at the hospital in India to treat an undisclosed ailment.
“We have attached to the application, the latest medical report. The defendant will be in India till the end of June and I have no other information to the contrary,” he said.
Counsel for the EFCC , Mr Seidu Atteh objected to Ojo’s request for a new adjournment date, insisting that the trial should continue on the previously scheduled date of May 28, while requesting for the payment of Bamaiyi’s flight expenses by Ajudua since he came from Abuja.
“We will be asking for the previously adjourned date of May 28 for us to do our findings in this matter. We only became aware last night that the defendant will not be in court. The defendant should be made to pay the costs of the witness who flew in all the way from Abuja,” Atteh said.
The defence did not object to the prosecution’s request that Bamaiyi’s flight expenses be paid.
“It is fair and just as we did not get across to him early enough,” Ojo said.
Justice Oyefeso ordered that Ajudua bear the expenses of Bamaiyi, while also conceded to the prosecution’s request and adjourned case until May 28 for trial.
The court had on Feb. 27, granted Ajudua permission to travel to India for medical treatment.
Ajudua, allegedly defrauded the former Chief of Army Staff of $8.4million while they were both in custody in Kirikiri Prisons in 2004.
Ajudua, alongside some accomplices, had allegedly approached Bamaiyi and convinced him that he could hire the legal services of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) to help secure his freedom with Bamaiyi giving Ajudua $8.4million as legal fees.
The law chambers of Afe Babalola and Co issued a disclaimer disassociating itself from the case when the alleged fraud came to light.