By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reopened a 12 year old $1million fraud case against Lagos lawyer and fraudster, Mr. Fred Ajudua.
The EFCC had first instituted the suit against Ajudua in 2005 before Justice Morenikeji Obadina of an Ikeja high court but the matter was however struck out in 2009 after Ajudua jumped bail and failed to appear in court on 24 occasions.
In the charge filed on February 9, 2005 the EFCC had alleged that the accused and one Joseph Ochunor sometimes in 1993 conspired to defraud a one Ziad Abu Zalaf of Technical International Limited based in Germany.
The commission alleged that Ajudua and co-defendant at various times collected an aggregate sum of $1,043,000 from the German businessman under the guise of financing a fictitious contract awarded by the Nigeria National Petroleum Commission (NNPC).
During the pendency of the suit spanning four years before Justice Obadina, Ajudua failed to appear for trial.
The development made the court to issue a warrant for his arrest sequel to which the matter was struck out in 2009 by Justice Obadina due to failure of the anti-graft agency to produce the defendants.
When Ajudua resurfaced in 2013, the EFCC formally applied to the Lagos Chief Judge to relist the matter and was re-assigned to Justice Josephine Oyefeso.
When the matter came up yesterday before Justice Oyefeso, EFCC counsel, Mr. S. A. Atteh informed the court that the commission had on January 25, 2017 filed a motion seeking to reopen the case.
But counsel to Ajudua’s lawyer, Mr. Morrison Quakers (SAN) informed the court that his client has already filed a preliminary objection against the motion filed by the EFCC.
The matter however could not proceed as the court refused to grant the request of EFCC counsel to respond to Ajudua’s preliminary objection orally.
The matter was adjourned to March 13, 2017 for argument of the application.
Earlier in a separate trial before Justice Oyefeso over allegations that he allegedly defrauded former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi of $4.8m, Ajudua through an application asked the court to strike out the charge against him.
The matter was also adjourned to March 13, 2017 due to the inability of the EFCC team to serve the defence with its response to the application seeking to quash the charge.