The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has set aside the ruling of Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja and granted a former Lagos socialite, Fred Ajudua bail to seek medical treatment abroad.
Justice Ipaye had refused Ajudua’s bail application in a suit filed against Ajudua by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for allegedly defrauding former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (rtd.) of about $8.4 million.
Dissatisfied, Ajudua through his lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, appealed against the ruling and urged the appellate court to set it aside.
The appellate court in a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice Rita Pemu held that Ajudua could only stand trial if he is alive.
Justice Pemu held that the charge levelled against Ajudua by the EFCC does not attract capital punishment hence its a bailable offence.
The court observed from the medical report presented at the lower court that Ajudua had been a patient at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH for kidney related illness as far back as 1987.
“He was already a sick man at the time the charge was filed against him. The lower court turned a blind eye to the plight of the appellant (Ajudua).
“A man with just one kidney is a walking carcass. Although his reputation is found wanting, he has not been convicted. The court ought to show mercy as a result of his health challenges”, Justice Pemu held.
On the claim by the EFCC that Ajudua will interfere with witnesses, Justice Pemu held that the anti-graft agency failed to show calculated attempt made by appellant to do so.
Consequently, the court granted Ajudua bail in the sum of 10 million Naira with two sureties in like sum.
The sureties must have property worth 50 million Naira in Lagos.
Ajudua is also to sign an undertaking that he would remain in Nigeria throughout his trial unless there was need for him to travel abroad for treatment.
The judgement was unanimously adopted by two other members of the panel namely; Justice CE Iyizoba and Justice JY Tukur respectively.
However, the appellate court dismissed another appeal by Ajudua which borders on the refusal of the lower court to allow him make extra-judicial statement in response to the allegations levelled against him.
Justice Pemu upheld the decision of the lower court on the ground that Ajudua had earlier been given the opportunity to make statements but he chose not to do so.
“It’s appellant’s constitutional right but he chose to waive it. The court cannot teach the Police how to carry out its investigation. The court cannot also force defendant to make statement” Justice Pemu added.
Ajudua had earlier been freed by a Lagos High Court on charges brought against him by the EFCC of defrauding two Dutch businessmen of $1.69 million.