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Published On: Thu, Oct 3rd, 2013

419: Court Adjourns Fred Ajudua’s Trial for Health Reason

Fred Ajidua

LAGOS OCTOBER 3RD (URHOBOTODAY)-A Lagos State High Court yesterday again adjourned a case against fraud suspect, Fred Ajudua, accused of massive advance fee fraud. Justice Olubunmi Oyewole set October 10, 2013 as the date for the resumption of the trial.
When the case was called up today, Mr. Ajudua’s counsel, Mr. Uwensuye Edosonwan, told the court that his client’s health suddenly “nose-dived.” Our correspondent reported that the case has dragged on for a while due to Mr. Ajudua’s incessant use of excuses of ill health.

A lawyer by training, Mr. Ajudua shot to infamy in the late 1980s and 1990s as he acquired stupendous wealth that prosecutors ascribe to advance fee fraud, otherwise called 419. He reportedly targeted wealthy foreigners with his schemes that promised huge windfalls. Those who fell for his schemes were then defrauded of millions of dollars that financed Mr. Ajudua’s flamboyant lifestyle complete with expensive cars, jewelry, and swanky real estate.
Mr. Ajudua’s defense counsel also hinted at the prospects of settling the case directly with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. “Conversations are ongoing between parties concerned and certain agreements are being reached,” the counsel said. But he stated that the prosecution was yet to receive detailed information regarding the substance of the ongoing discussion.
Mr. Olumuyiwa Balogun, a counsel for the EFCC, confirmed that the prosecution was engaged in talks with the defense.
On September 10, 2013, a stand-in judge, Ganiyu Safari, granted bail to Mr. Ajudua, who had earlier been denied bail by the trial judge, Justice Olubunmi Oyewole. Justice Oyewole had cited fear that the suspect might jump bail and evade trial. However, the “vacation” judge said he was swayed by defense counsel’s description of Mr. Ajudua’s failing health.
In granting the bail, Justice Safari said, “The first defendant should not be made to suffer due to his health condition while undergoing trial… If he dies in custody, his trial will come to an end.” The EFCC has since appealed the decision to grant bail to the accused.
A source close to Mr. Ajudua claimed that the suspect was undergoing treatment at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).
The EFCC arraigned Mr. Ajudua along with his alleged accomplice, Charles Orie, for allegedly defrauding Dutch businessmen, Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, of $1.69 million.
In a bid to stop the trial, the defense had told court a few months ago that the victims of the fraud had indicated their intention not to continue with the trial. However, the court upheld the prosecution’s argument that the trial must proceed. The court had ruled that truncating the trial would amount to abuse of process.
Adjourning the case to October 10, Justice Oyewole stated that all trials at the new division where he has been posted are on fast track.
Source: Saharareporters

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