Crime/DefenseLegal/Judiciary

$8.4m fraud: Go for COVID-19 test, court orders Ajudua

By Francis IWUCHUKWU

A suspected serial fraudster, Fred Ajudua was on Tuesday ordered to undergo a Covid-19 test at Yaba Infectious Disease Centre Laboratory, in the presence of the representatives of both the prosecution and defence and the result must be communicated to the court within 48-hours.

The order was issued by a High Court of Lagos State sitting in Ajah, presided over by Justice Josephine Oyefeso.

Justice Oyefeso decided after counsel to the defence, Akinwale Kola-Taiwo informed the court that though Ajudua was present in the court premises, he should not be made to enter the courtroom because he has tested positive for COVID-19.

It would be recalled that Ajudua had been alleged to have defrauded a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ishaya Bamaiyi of $8.4 million while they were both in Kirikiri Prison in 2004 for different offences.

Specifically, Ajudua alongside his ‘accomplices’ were said to have approached Bamaiyi and convinced him that he would hire the legal services of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) for $8.4million, to help him secure his release from custody.

During today’s sitting on the matter, Kola-Taiwo told the court that the medical report of the defendant shows that he contacted the deadly virus for the first time on 8/01/2021, and was tested negative on 15/01/21 after he treated himself through self-medication.

He said: “I’m sincerely sorry for the absence of the defendant. He is downstairs but I don’t think he should be made to enter the court.

“An associate of the defendant met me and handed over these documents to me. They are medical reports of the defendant testing positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“Your lordship, the defendant was tested positive of COVID-19 for the first time on 8/01/2021. He did self-medication, and he was tested negative on 15/01/2021. The defendant has an underlining health issue. He has been living with one kidney for a couple of years now sir.

“Sometimes around October 14 this year, while he was in his hometown in Delta State, the defendant also contacted COVID-19. The defendant has been medicating ever since, but the condition is deteriorating.

“The latest test was done three days ago on 3/12/21, and the result came out positive again. I was told that the defendant flew in from Delta State last night. We will be praying your lordship for an adjournment to give room for the defendant to be treated for the virus.”

Responding, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, through its counsel, Seidu Atteh queried the absence of the lead defence counsel, Olalekan Ojo (SAN).

He said the defence should make all the documents available to the prosecution so that they will conduct their investigation on the authenticity of the documents.

Atteh said in the alternative, the court should invoke Section 235 of the newly passed Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, 2014, which states that the defendant can be tried in absentia.

According to the EFCC lawyer, “Where is the principal of my learned friend, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), who got today’s date. Records of the defendant have made claims of illness.

“The defendant should make available the documents to us so that we can look into it before we make our comment. In the alternative, the court should invoke Section 235 of ACJL, 2014, because the defendant cannot continue to manipulate the court.”

Justice Oyefeso while delivering a bench ruling ordered the defendant to be tested at the laboratory of Yaba Infectious Disease Centre in the presence of both the prosecution and defence.

The court also ordered the defence to file and attach all the medical reports of the defendant before the court.

Justice Oyefeso equally directed the prosecution to bring the issue of Section 235 of ACJL, 2014 before the court as an application.

Justice Oyefeso adjourned the matter till February 15, 2022, for the continuation of trial.

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All rights reserved. This material and any other material on THE NEWS ACCELERATOR NETWORK should not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written, or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from the Editor-in-chief.

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