Absence of property documents to be tendered in court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission stalled the trial of Lagos socialite, Fred Ajudua, on Monday.
Ajudua is facing trial for allegedly defrauding a former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ishaya Bamaiyi, to the tune of $8.4 million.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Ajudua is being tried at an Ikeja High Court for allegedly swindling the retired General of $8.4 million in 2004 at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons in Lagos.
The defence, led by Olalekan Ojo (SAN), while cross-examining Bamaiyi had persistently requested that he provide proof of the source of the funds which he was allegedly defrauded of.
The former chief of army staff had, however, reiterated at previous court proceedings that the source of the funds were from friends, colleagues, relations and well-wishers, who had pleaded with him not to identify them because some of them held positions in government.
He also named other sources of the $8.4 million he was defrauded of as sale of property and farm products.
Monday’s proceeding is the sixth time in which Bamaiyi is being cross-examined by the defence, since giving his evidence-in-chief on November 26, 2018.
Ojo, however, requested that the prosecution provided the deed of sales and assignment of two properties at Victoria Island and Ikoyi as proof that the properties were sold as part of the $8.4 million transaction.
The EFCC Prosecutor, Seidu Atteh, however, informed the court that the deeds of sale and assignment for the properties were available but not in his possession in court.
Reacting, Ojo said: “My very humble understanding of what my learned friend had said is that he doesn’t have the document referred to.
“Having regard to the evidence of this witness before this honourable court as the deeds of sale and assignment which evidence the learned counsel for the prosecution cannot deny.
“We are constrained to apply that the prosecution in conjunction with PW1 (Bamaiyi) make these documents available to us because we reasonably require these documents for cross-examination.
“PW1 is the most vital witness in this case and this is the order in which we want to take this witness.
“As at today, HFP Engineering has not forwarded any deeds of sale or assignment.
“I urge that they provide the deed of sale and assignment for the two properties at Ikoyi and Victoria Island the subject matter of exhibit P7 and P9.”
The EFCC prosecutor, however, told the court that the subject of the criminal suit was about fraud and not sale of property.
Atteh said: “I concede the fact that if the defendant is requesting for a document as an officer in the temple of justice, we should provide it.
“We should not lose focus about what this case is about, it is not for the sale of property.”
Justice Josephine Oyefeso ordered that the prosecution “put their house in order”.
Oyefeso said: “Get everything necessary for you to effectively conduct your case.
“We need all these documents to make progress so that we no longer have to adjourn.
“This case is adjourned till October 10 for continuation of trial.”
Earlier during the trial, Bamaiyi told the court that the properties were sold by HFP Engineering Limited, while he was incarcerated in prison.
A letter, dated January 10 to HFP Engineering Limited requesting for documents evidencing the sale of the two properties was presented to the court and marked as Exhibit P10.
NAN reports that according to the prosecution, Ajudua was incarcerated at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons over alleged fraud while Bamaiyi was incarcerated over alleged involvement in the attempted murder of Alex Ibru, the publisher of The Guardian Newspapers.
The prosecution alleged that Ajudua had alongside some accomplices approached Bamaiyi in the prison in 2004.
The defendant had allegedly convinced Bamaiyi that he could hire the legal services of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) to help secure his freedom from Kirikiri with Ajudua fraudulently receiving $8.4 million as legal fees.
When the alleged fraud came to light, the law chambers of Afe Babalola and Co issued a disclaimer disassociating itself from the case.