EFCC Reopens 2005 $1m Fraud Charge against Ajudua

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Akinwale Akintunde

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reopened a $1million fraud case against a one-time Lagos socialite, Fred Ajudua.

The EFCC had instituted the case before a Lagos High Court in February 2005 before Justice Morenikeji Obadina but the matter was struck out in 2009 after Ajudua failed to appear before the court on 24 occasions.

The anti-graft agency had alleged that Fred Ajudua and one Joseph Ochunor sometimes in 1993 conspired to defraud one Ziad Abu Zalaf of Technical International Limited based in Germany.

According to EFCC, the duo had 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 Corporation (NNPC).

Justice Obadina had struck out the charge in 2009, four years after Ajudua failed to appear for his trial despite a warrant of arrest issued by the court against him.

However, when Ajudua resurfaced in 2013, the EFCC formally applied to the Lagos Chief Judge to relist the matter, which was eventually reassigned to Justice Josephine Oyefeso.

At yesterday’s proceedings, EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Seidu Atteh, informed the court that the commission had in January 25, 2017 filed a motion seeking to reopen the case.

In his response, Ajudua’s lawyer, Mr. Norrison Quakers (SAN), informed the court that his client had already filed a preliminary objection against the motion filed by the EFCC.

The matter, however, could not proceed as the court refused to allow EFCC lawyer, Atteh, attempt to orally respond to the defendant’s preliminary objection.

Justice Oyefeso adjourned the matter till March 13, 2017 for argument of the application.

Earlier, in a separate trial of Ajudua’s alleged fraud against former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (rtd), of $4.8million, Ajudua through an application, asked the court to strike out the charges against him.

The matter was however adjourned till 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.