Alleged fraudster, Fred Ajudua, on Monday filed an application before an Ikeja High Court, seeking a change of the trial judge hearing charges of fraud preferred against him.
Ajudua and an associate, Charles Orie, are standing trial before Justice Joseph Oyewole of an Ikeja High Court.
Ajudua and his accomplice were arraigned on May 30, 2003, for allegedly defrauding two Dutch businessmen – Messrs Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, of 1.69 million US dollars (N252.8 million).
During Monday’s proceedings, Ajudua’s counsel, Mr Allens Agbaka, said that the defence had petitioned the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, to remove Oyewole from further sitting over the trial.
Agbaka also sought for an adjournment of the trial, pending the decision of Phillips to transfer the case to another judge.
In the application– which was supported by a six-paragraph affidavit– Agbaka alleged that Oyewole had made a prejudicial remark while ruling on Ajudua’s bail application on June 25.
The defence counsel said that the judge’s claim that his client would tamper with the prosecution witnesses was prejudicial to the fair trial of the case.
He said:”The learned presiding judge, in making those remarks, has given cause for reasonable apprehension that the first accused ( Ajudua) has been found guilty, even before the conclusion of the trial.”
Agbaka further stated that Oyewole’s name was mentioned in another petition written by Ishaya Bamaiyi, a retired Major-General, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said that in the petition, Bamaiyi had accused Ajudua of fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars from him while they were in Kirikiri Prison, Lagos.
Agbaka said Bamaiyi had alleged that he gave Ajudua the money to help him influence Oyewole, who was also presiding over his trial as at then.
He said: “Having the name of the judge in the hand written petition, His Lordship is likely going to be listed as one of the witnesses.”
The EFCC counsel, Mr Wemimo Ogunde (SAN), told the court that he needed time to respond to the application.
The matter was adjourned till Sept. 24 for further hearing. (NAN)