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A suspected serial fraudster, Fred Ajudua, accused of duping two Dutchmen, Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, of $1.69 million between July 1999 and September 2000, was Wednesday re-arraigned for the second time before an Ikeja High Court.
Ajudua and his co-defendant, Charles Orie, are facing trial for defrauding Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, two European businessmen, of $1.69 million (N287 million).
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused Ajudua, Orie, Rasheed Adekunle, Abisola Fawehinmi, and Stephen Joiner (the last three are still at large) of committing the crime between 1999 and 2000.
Ajudua, who is also known as Isa Audu, and the others allegedly obtained the money from the businessmen as sundry payment to various government officials for payment of an $18 million contract No. FMA/EED/3040/S92, according to the EFCC.
When the four-count charge of obtaining money by false pretence was read to the defendants, both pleaded not guilty.
Ajudua, his alleged accomplice, Orie were first arraigned by EFCC before Justice Olubunmi Oyewole in 2003.
They were, however, re-arraigned before Justice Kudirat Jose on a four-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence and inducing payment by false pretence.
The transfer of the case to Justice Jose was necessitated by the withdrawal of the former trial judge, Justice Joseph Oyewole, from the case, due to the redeployment of judges.
At Wednesday’s proceedings, a pale-looking Ajudua and his co-defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and his counsel, Olalekan Ojo, asked the court to allow his client to perfect the extant bail granted him in September 2013 on health grounds by Justice Ganiyu Safari, a vacation judge.
“I wish to inform my lord that from the charge, this is the tenth year that the matter commenced. In the chequered history of this case the first defendant developed health problems. The first defendant has a barrage of health problems," he said.
“I wish to bring to your lordship's notice that on the 16th September, 2013 that Justice G.A. Safari granted him bail on health grounds. Your lordship should exercise your discretionary power to allow the first defendant to perfect the extant bail granted by Justice Safari,” Ojo said.
Counsel to Orie, Ndubuisi Esekea, also prayed the court to allow his client to continue to enjoy the bail earlier granted him.
The prosecution counsel, Olumuyiwa Balogun, who did not object to the second defendant's application, however opposed the oral plea made by Ojo on behalf of Ajudua.
Balogun said while he would concede that the court has the discretionary power to grant Ajudua bail, he ought to bring a fresh application before it.
He argued that Justice Jose was not bound by the decision of the judge that previously granted the first defendant bail.
Justice Jose ruled that both defendants should file fresh applications for bail and fixed the hearing of the bail application for February 20. The judge also fixed the trial for April 28 and 29.