Why Lagos judge remanded alleged serial fraudster, Fred Ajudua, in prison

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Fred Ajudua, an alleged 419 kingpin, has been on the run since 2006.

A Lagos High Court, Tuesday, ordered that alleged 419 kingpin and lawyer, Fred Ajudua, be remanded in prison pending the determination of the suit against him.

Olubunmi Oyewole, the trial judge, fixed June 24 for the hearing of Ajudua’s bail application and “possibly,” his application to quash the charges against him.

Mr. Oyewole rejected the plea of Olalekan Ojo, Mr. Ajudua’s lawyer, to remand him in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. He also refused a second appeal to allow the alleged fraudster attend to his “illness” as an out-patient at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, under “the eagle’s eyes of designated EFCC’s operatives.”

“The first defendant ceased to be on bail since December 15, 2005, when his bail was revoked,” Mr. Oyewole said.

“The case has been held up as the agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria have been unable to execute the warrant of arrest issued on January 24, 2005.

“The first defendant is hereby ordered to be remanded in Kirikiri Maximum prison,” the judge added.

An elusive character

The EFCC, in 2003, arraigned Mr. Ajudua and Charles Orie, his co-accused, for allegedly duping Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen – two Dutch businessmen – of about US$1.69 million.

Mr. Ajudua allegedly impersonated Isa Audu, then Auditor-General of Nigeria, and met Mr. Cina thrice in London between June 1999 and February 2000.

Two years after his arraignment, the University of Benin Law graduate was granted bail to seek medical attention over his kidney-related ailment in India.

That was the last he was seen.

In January 2006, one year after he was granted bail, Mr. Oyewole issued a warrant for his arrest.

But Mr. Ajudua remained elusive.

In March 2007, after EFCC agents were reportedly tipped off that he had returned to the country, efforts to arrest him at his hometown of Ibusa in Delta State ended in a gun duel armed thugs, according to the commission.

Mr. Ajudua’s lawyer, however, insisted that his client was still receiving treatment in an Indian hospital.

For eight years, the police were unable to effect the arrest of Mr. Ajudua.

On Tuesday, the judge rescinded his order of arrest after Mr. Ajudua’s dramatic appearance in court.

But Mr. Oyewole declined to grant him leave to be treated as an outpatient at LUTH.

“The Superintendent of Prison shall ensure that the accused is given unrestricted access medical treatment including being taken to LUTH as an out-patient when occasions demand,” Mr. Oyewole said.

In addition to the case pending before Mr. Oyewole, Mr. Ajudua has also been accused of involvement in an advanced fee fraud of $1.5 million (N233 million) and €1.6 million (N336 million) in 2001.

He was also accused of collecting US$250,000 (39 million) and US$350,000 (N54 million)from a Canadian and a German respectively; the latter, a woman identified as Frieda Springer-Beck, agreed to an out-of-court settlement in July 2006, after lengthy, inconclusive court appearances spanning 13 years.

In : Lagos