A former Chief of Army Staff, General Ishaya Bamaiyi, yesterday, told a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, how alleged fraud kingpin, Fred Ajudua under false pretence, obtained $8.4 million from him.
General Bamaiyi told the trial judge, Justice Josephine Oyefeso that Ajudua obtained the money from him purportedly on behalf of legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) in 25 tranches.
According to him, the alleged fraud was committed by the accused persons and his syndicate while he was standing trial for the murder of late Kudirat Abiola for the purpose of hiring Chief Babalola as his defence lawyer.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned Fred Ajudua on a two count amended charge of conspiracy and fraud.
Ajudua’s co-defendant, Olorunke Idowu Rosulu opted for a separate trial and she had since been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo last year.
But Ajudua is still maintaining his not guilty plea. While giving evidence yesterday, the retired military officer claimed that apart from the money Ajudua collected from him, the accused person also obtained various sums from his friends, wife and staff. He testified that Ajudua obtained the money while he was in Kirikiri Maximum prison, hospital bed at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and when he was discharged before going to an Indian hospital for treatment.
The witness further maintained that in 2004, the accused person collected money from him and his associates six times while in 2005, he collected money from the same categories of people nineteen times.
He said, “When on admission at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, my friends and personal staffs delivered money to him while in prison. He also collected money from my wife twice, once inside the prison and when I was outside the prison.
“Anytime money was released by me or any of my staff, I recorded them in my diary. In 2004, he collected money six times and in 2005, he collected money nineteen times.
“Anytime money was released both in the hospital and out of the hospital, he would call me on phone to confirm.
“There was a time I was worried and he was on bail then. I demanded to meet Chief Afe Babalola. Thereafter, one Barrister Richard Oma came and met me in prison. He claimed to come from the Chambers of Chief Afe Babalola. But to my surprise, he did not come with any letter from the Chief’s chambers.
“Later, he came with another letter which did not carry any logo from Chambers of Chief Babalola to me in the prison custody. I collected the letter from him.
“Also one man named Kenneth came to me in the prison custody and he claimed to be from Department of State Security Services. He said he came from General Aliyu Gusau, the then National Society Adviser. He said Gusau and Obasanjo had met and they discussed my issue and they want to be assured that I will not cause trouble if I am released from custody.
“I told him I had no problem with the president. He told me to write an undertaken that I will not cause trouble if I am released. I told him I will not write any undertaken,” Bamaiyi said.
Consequently, he said Ajudua, one Jonathan who was a personal assistant to Ajudua and alleged serial fraudster, Alumile Adedeji popularly called Ade Bendel collected money from him with intentions of securing the services of Chief Afe Babalola.
“On November, 22, 2004 in the presence of ACP Garba, I gave the sum of $20,000 to one Jonathan who was the personal assistant of the defendant. On November 30th of the same year, my wife Imuade, brought $400,000 and I counted the money and Jonathan his boy went away with the money.
“On December 4th, 2004, the defendant boy came with somebody who said he was orderly of Justice Oyewole and the sum of $1.5 million was counted before it was handed to Jonathan. On December 16th, 2004, my ADC Chechet, a major. He brought in $1million and gave the money to the defendant in visitor waiting room.
“At about 6pm, the defendant called me and told me that his wife was in the house of the then Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ade Alabi waiting for Chief Afe Babalola. He called his wife to confirm and at about 11pm, the defendant called to tell me that Chief Afe Babalola had collected the money.
“Sometimes on December 27th, 2004 one of my associates brought in $350,000 which was given to the defendant. His boy Jonathan also collected $600,000 on January 15, 2005,” the witness affirmed.
He further told the court that he raised the fund that was stolen from him by the defendant as proceed of sale of his properties in Victoria Island, Dolphins Estate, Yaba and Lekki in Lagos.
He also said he sold his landed properties in Kaduna as well as proceeds from his farm which he had been engaged in since 1994.
“I was posted to Lagos in 1996.During the period I was able to acquired properties in Sanusi Fafunwa in Victoria Island which was allocated to me by the Lagos State government.
“I sold it as well as my property in Dolphins Estate. I also had duplex at Tajudeen Olanrewaju Estate, Tabatha which I sold.
This is part of how I raised the fund that I can remember,” Bamaiyi said.