A Lagos High Court, sitting at Ajah, Lagos, south west Nigeria, has ordered suspected fraudster, Fred Ajudua, to undergo Covid – 19 test at Yaba Infectious Disease Centre Laboratory. This should be in the presence of the representatives of both the prosecution and defence. The result must also be communicated to the court within 48-hours.
The presiding Judge Josephine Oyefeso made the order shortly after counsel to the defendant Akinwale Kola – Taiwo, informed the court that though Ajudua was present in court premises, he pleaded that he should not be made to entre the court room. That was because Ajudua had tested positive for COVID-19.
Ajudua was alleged to have defrauded a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ishaya Bamaiyi of $8.4 million while they were both in Kirikiri Prison in 2004 for different offences.
The defendant and his accomplices approached Bamaiyi and convinced him that he would hire the legal services of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) at a cost of $8.4million, to help him secure his release from custody.
It is on record that for over two-years, Bamaiyi has been under cross-examination by the defence after giving his evidence-in-chief on November. 26, 2018.
The cross-examination of the former Chief of Army Staff has suffered several delays brought about by the defence.
At the resume hearing of proceedings, Kola-Taiwo told the court that medical report of the defendant shows that he contacted the deadly virus for the first time on 8 January 2021. He was said to have tested negative on 15 January 2021 after he treated himself through self-medication.
He said: “I’m sincerely sorry for the absence of the defendant. He is downstairs but I don’t think he should be made to entre the court.
“An associate of the defendant met me and handed over these documents to me. They are medical reports of the defendant testing positive for COVID-19 virus.
“Sometimes around October 14 this year while he was in his home town in Delta State, the defendant also contracted COVID-19. The defendant has been medicating ever since, but the condition is deteriorating
“The latest test was done three days ago on 3 December 2021, and the result came out positive again. I was told that the defendant flew in from Delta state last night. We will be praying your lordship for an adjournment to give room for the defendant to be treated for the virus.
In his response, lead prosecution counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Seidu Atteh, querried the absence of the lead defence counsel Mr Olalekan Ojo.
He said the defence should make all the documents available to the prosecution so that they would conduct their own investigation on the authenticity of the documents.
Atteh said in the alternative, the court should invoke S. 235 of the newly passed Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, 2014, which states that defendant can be tried in absentia.
“The defendant should make available the documents to us so that we can look into it before we make our comment. In the alternative, the court should invoke S.235 of ACJL, 2014, because the defendant cannot continue to manipulate the court.
Justice Oyefeso in her ruling ordered the defendant to be tested at the laboratory of Yaba Infectious Disease Centre, in the presence of both the prosecution and defence.
The court also ordered defence to file application and attached all the medical reports of the defendant before the court.
The judge directed prosecution to bring the issue of S.235 of ACJL, 2014 before the court as an application.
Thereafter ,Justice Oyefeso adjourned the matter to 15 February, 2022 for continuation of trial.