Reprieve came the way of one-time Lagos socialite, Mr. Fred Ajudua, on Friday as the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos set aside the decision of a Lagos High Court, which had denied the defendant bail in a fraud case preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ajudua is standing trial before Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of an Ikeja High Court over an $8.3m fraud allegation preferred against him by the EFCC.
Justice Ipaye had refused Ajuduas bail application to seek medical treatment abroad on the ground of his antecedents in separate criminal matters before another Lagos State High Court where the defendant not only jumped bail but also allegedly interfered with the court process.
Dissatisfied, Ajudua through his lawyer, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, appealed against the ruling and urged the appellate court to set it aside.
But the Court of Appeal in its lead judgment delivered by Justice Rita Pemu on Friday held that Ajudua could only stand trial if preserved alive.
The appellate court in judgment, which was unanimously adopted by Justices C.E Iyizoba and J.Y Tukur insisted that the charge made against Ajudua by the anti-graft agency did not attract capital punishment, hence it was a bailable offence.
The court observed from the medical report presented at the lower court that Ajudua had been a patient at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital for kidney related illness since as far back as 1987.
â€œHe was already a sick man at the time the charge was filed against him. The lower court turned a blind eye on the plight of the appellant.
â€œA man with just one kidney is a walking carcass. Although his reputation is found wanting, he has not been convicted. The court ought to show mercy as a result of his health challenges,â€ Justice Pemu held.
On the claim by the EFCC that Ajudua would interfere with witnesses, Justice Pemu held that the anti-graft agency failed to show any calculated attempt made by the appellant to do so.
The court therefore granted Ajudua bail in the sum of N10m with two sureties in like sum.
The sureties, according to the court must have property worth N50 million in Lagos.
Justice Pemu also directed that Ajudua should sign an undertaking that he would remain in Nigeria throughout his trial, unless there was need for him to travel abroad for treatment.
The appellate court, however, dismissed Ajuduas appeal marked CA/L/693A on the refusal of the lower court to allow him make extra-judicial statement in response to the allegations levelled against him.
Justice Pemu affirmed the decision of the lower court on the ground that Ajudua was given the opportunity to make statements but he chose not to do so.
"It is the appellants constitutional right but he chose to waive it. The court cannot teach the Police how to carry out its investigation. The court cannot also force defendant to make statement, Justice Pemu held.