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Published On: Tue, Mar 4th, 2014

N1bn fraud: Court dismisses Ajudua’s prayer to quash charge against him

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From Matthew Irinoye, Lagos

Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of a Lagos State High Court, Ikeja yesterday dismissed an application filed by a Lagos socialite, Fred Ajudua, seeking to quash the alleged N1 billion fraud charge preferred againsthim by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

While ruling on the application the judge held that EFCC was right in charging Ajudua under the repealed advance fee fraud and other related offenses act of 1995, since the act was in force when the alleged crime was committed.

The judge also held that the argument by the defendant that the victim of the alleged crime was tainted cannot be a ground for dismissing the charge.

Justice Ipaye further held that facts about the credibility of the victim was not before the court.

However, Ajudua formal arraignment could not proceed as his lawyer requested for time to study the charge.

The Judge subsequently adjourned that case till March 11, 2014 for arraignment.

It would be recalled that, Ajudua was charged to court for allegedly defrauding a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (retd) of about $5.9 million (about N1 billion).

The EFCC alleged that Ajudua conspired with others( now at large) to perpetrate the fraud between November 2004 and June 2005.

According to the EFCC, defendant defrauded Bamaiyi while they were both on remand at Kirikiri prison in Lagos for separate alleged crimes.

The commission said Ajudua obtained the money from Bamaiyi by claiming that it represented the professional fees charged by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) to handle his case.

He was also alleged to have claimed that the money would help to facilitate Bamaiyi’s release from prison.

During last proceeding, Adjudua’s counsel Mr Olalekan Ojo, while moving the notice of preliminary objection, had argued that the 14-count charge against the defendant was made under a repealed law.

Ojo said that, charging Ajudua under the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 1995 as amended by Act No.62 of 1999, makes the charge fundamentally defective and liable to be quashed.

He said the court therefore had no jurisdiction to exercise any form of jurisdiction over the matter.

The lawyer further argued that Bamaiyi in his petition and statement to the EFCC had disclosed self-confession to various crimes including conspiracy, aiding and abetting, money laundering and corrupting of public officers.

 

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