The trial of Fred Ajudua for allegedly obtaining money to the tune of $8.4m could not go on today, Monday, as his lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, sought an adjournment before Justice Josephine Oyefeso of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ajah, Lagos.
Ajudua allegedly defrauded a former Chief of Army Staff, Ishaya Bamaiyi, of $8.4m, while they both were in Kirikiri Prison, Lagos in 2004 for different offences.
Ajudua, alongside his accomplices, had allegedly approached Bamaiyi and convinced him that he could hire the legal services of Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, at the cost of $8.4m to help secure his release.
At the resumed sitting today, the prosecution counsel, S.K. Atteh, told the court that the prosecution received a letter from the defence counsel,Ojo, stating that he would not be present in court and also sought an adjournment of the trial.
“In the letter, he also requested three days in December,” Atteh added.
He also told the court that after the case was filed in 2013, it suffered a series of preliminary objections till November 6, 2018 when the trial commenced.
“From the records of the court, it appears the defence counsel has little or no time for this case. The first prosecution witness has been in the witness box since November 6, 2018; and up until now, he hasn’t finished giving his evidence.
“We acknowledge that the defendant has the constitutional right to engage any counsel of his choice, but the counsel also has to have time for the case.
“It is not proper that the defence counsel has to be the one fixing dates for this case”, he further submitted.
Atteh, therefore, asked the court for a date in November.
He also submitted that “the defendant can engage another lawyer, if his lawyer is unavailable so as not to waste the time of the court.”
Justice Oyefeso, in a short ruling, held that “I have noted the concerns of the prosecution, and the SAN must devote time for this criminal charge.
“We must ensure that the case is completed expeditiously and without further excuses.”
The matter was adjourned to November 15 and December 6, 2021 for continuation of trial.
▪︎ By Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media & Publicity, EFCC