A former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt General Ishaya Bamaiyi explained before an Ikeja High Court today how a serial conman and lawyer, Fred Ajudua defrauded him of $8.4 million.
Bamaiyi who was standing trial alongside others for the attempted murder of the late Alex Ibru, Publisher, Guardian Newspapers said he have the money to Ajudua to help him contact formost lawyer, Aare Afe Babalola SAN to handle his defense.
But lawyer to Ajudua, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN) refuted Gen Bamaiyi’s claims, alleging that the money was initially to be used to bribe Lagos State judges and judicial officers.
Ojo, made the allegation during the cross-examination of the retired General. The defence counsel alleged that the former Chief of Army Staff gave Ajudua the funds to secure his release from the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons where he was incarcerated over the alleged attempted murder of the late Ibru .
Ojo said: “You lodged a complaint to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) through Daniel Amos. The complaint was that the defendant (Ajudua) and one Ade Bendel who is now at large, had with your knowledge and consent promised to bribe Justice Joseph Oyewole, some other judges of Lagos and some court officials.
“The bribe was to facilitate your release from prison. As a high profile citizen of Nigeria, are you aware that it is wrong and criminal to attempt to compromise judicial officers? Do you know that it is totally wrong to send someone who is a judicial officer to someone presiding over case in which you are a defendant?”
Bamaiyi in his response, denied the allegations. “It is not true, I did not attempt to bribe anybody, I know it is criminal to attempt to compromise judicial officers.
“I do not see anything wrong in sending somebody to anybody as long as I am sending the person for something reasonable,” Bamaiyi said.
Ojo asked Bamaiyi if as a veteran General, he believed in the marchiavelian principle of the “end justifies the means” and agreed to Ajudua’s suggestion that he bribed judicial officers in order to be released from prison.
Bamaiyi replied: “If anyone was in trouble, he will find a way out, I wanted a good lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola was suggested to me by the defendant. I agreed to their suggestions because I thought they were truthful and because I wanted freedom. The suggestion was to get me a very good lawyer and not to bribe judicial officers,” he said.
The retired General denied admitting in his 2006 statement to the EFCC to agreeing to a suggestion by Ajudua that Justice Oyewole and other judicial officers of Lagos State be bribed to secure his release from prison.
Mr Seidu Atteh, the lead prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, however interjected telling the court that the prosecution team did not have of a copy of Bamaiyi’s 2006 statement to the anti-graft commission with them in court.
“My lord we do not have a copy the witness’ 2006 statement to the EFCC which is the subject matter of the cross-examination, his 2014 and 2016 statements are here,” he said.
Reacting, Ojo sought an adjournment to enable the prosecution bring to court a copy of the Bamaiyi’s 2006 statement to the EFCC.
“We are constrained by reason of the default of the prosecution not coming up with all the EFCC statements frontloaded in the proof of evidence.
“We will like to seek an adjournment. In some other climes, the court will impose costs because as a diligent prosecutor that he is, he is supposed to come to court with all the statements,” Ojo said.
Following Ojo’s submission, the trial judge, Justice Josephine Oyefeso granted the adjournment.
She said: “It is the duty of the prosecution to come to court with relevant documents. It is not for the prosecution to tell the defendants how to conduct their case. It is the duty of the prosecution to have in court the relevant documents in their proof of evidence, I so hold.
“This case is adjourned to May 8 at 11am and May 14 for continuation of cross-examination and trial,” the judge said.