BY AKEEB ALARAPE
Embattled Lagos lawyer and businessman, Chief Fred Ajudua, has again approached a Lagos High Court in Ikeja for a fresh bail. Ajudua, who is standing trial for fraud-related offences, had been on admission at the private ward of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) since August 12 for alleged kidney-related medical complications.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned the embattled lawyer alongside Charles Hijiudu in 2003 for allegedly defrauding two Dutch businessmen, Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, of $1.6 million between July 1999 and September 2000.
Ajudua, according to the court, avoided trial for eight years until his appearance on June 11, this year, to continue with his case before Justice Joseph Oyewole of a Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja.
On his appearance in court, Justice Oyewole revoked his bail application on the request of the EFCC and subsequently remanded him in prison custody.
Efforts by Ajudua’s lawyer, Allens Agbaka, to rescue him from his present ordeals failed as the two applications filed by him, asking the court to quash the case against him as the complainant had withdrawn from the case and also to restore his revoked bail, were turned down.
With his present condition, another counsel to Ajudua, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, yesterday, filed a fresh bail application before a vacation judge, Justice Ganiyu Safari.
Arguing the fresh application, dated August 19, Ojo said there were fresh facts which emerged after his client was last denied bail by Justice Oyewole.
According to Ojo, after Oyewole denied bail to Ajudua, the accused person was rushed to the emergency unit of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, when his condition deteriorated.
But opposing the bail application, counsel to EFCC, Mr. Wemimo Ogunde (SAN), said Ajudua did not deserve any fresh bail.
Ogunde hinged his opposition to the fact that Ajudua would escape if granted fresh bail as he did when he was granted bail on health grounds in 2005.
But responding to the EFCC’s stance against his application, Ojo stated that a judge was not bound by the decision of another judge of a coordinate jurisdiction.
He cited the case of Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs Alhaji Bulama, in which the Court of Appeal ruled that an accused was entitled to file a fresh application in the face of fresh facts.
“The law allows a fresh application for bail pending trial to be filed by an accused where there are changed circumstances different from the circumstances that were in existence as of the time the initial or previous application for bail was refused,” Ojo stated.
Ogunde, however, told the court that the EFCC’s affidavit opposing the application was in good faith since Ajudua had record of ‘previous escape for seven years which was confirmed by judicial decisions.’
He said it was confirmed in some of the court’s decisions that the accused had travelled to India in 2005 for treatment but failed to return when he got well.
“He escaped for seven years. People were accusing me that I was compromised and that was why I did not oppose the bail. The defendant had enjoyed liberal terms in the past. If he is granted fresh bail, who knows if it is going to take another seven years to return?
“This is not a vindictive opposition; it is an opposition that we must make as responsible prosecution. We owe it to the state that the defendant is properly prosecuted,” Ogunde said.
Ruling on the application was adjourned till September 10 by Justice Safari.