FORMER Chief of Army Staff Lt-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (retd) yesterday told an Ikeja High Court how he was allegedly duped of $8.4 million by a Lagos lawyer and socialite, Fred Ajudua.
Gen. Bamaiyi and Ajudua were both incarcerated at Kirikiri in 2012, when the alleged fraud took place.
Bamaiyi was imprisoned for the attempted murder of Alex Ibru. Ajudua was in prison for fraud.
He was led in evidence before Justice Josephine Oyefeso by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecutor Mr. Seidu Atteh.
Bamaiyi told the court that he collected the money from his friends, wife and workers after Ajudua told him that he would help him engage the services of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) and also help in influencing Justice Joseph Oyewole, who was then handling his case.
According to him, Ajudua, in 2004, collected money from him and his associates six times. In 2005, he said Ajudua collected money from the same categories of people 19 times.
“When on admission at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, my friends and personal staff delivered money to him while in prison. He also collected money from my wife twice – once inside the prison and the other one outside the prison.
“Anytime money was released by me or any of my staff, I recorded them in my diary and anytime money was released both in the hospital and out of the hospital, he would call me on phone to confirm,” he said.
Bamaiyi told the court that there was a time he was worried and demanded to meet Chief Afe Babalola.
“Instead, one Barrister Richard Oma came and met me in prison. He claimed to have come from Chambers of Chief Afe Babalola. But to my surprise, he did not come with any letter from Chief Afe Babalola’s Chambers.
“Later, he came with another letter, which did not carry any logo from the Chambers of Chief Afe Babalola to me in the prison custody. I collected the letter from him,” he said.
The former Chief of Army Staff said a man, named Kenneth, came to him in the prison custody and claimed to be from Department of State Security Services.
“He said he came from General Aliyu Gusau, the then National Security Adviser (NSA). He said Gusau and Obasanjo had met and they discussed my issue and they want to be assured that I will not cause trouble, if I am released from the custody.
“I told him I had no problem with the President. He told me to write an undertaking that I will not cause trouble, if released. I told him I will not write any undertaking,” Bamaiyi said.
Following his refusal, he said Ajudua, one Jonathan, who was a personal assistant to Ajudua and another alleged fraudster, Alumile Adedeji, popularly called Ade Bendel, collected money from him with intentions of securing the services of Chief Afe Babalola.
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“On November 22 , 2004, in the presence of ACP Garba, I gave the sum of $20,000 to one Jonathan, who was the personal assistant of the defendant. On November 30, my wife, Imuade, brought $400,000 and I counted the money and Jonathan, Ajudua’s boy, went away with the money.
“On December 4, 2004, the defendant’s boy came with somebody, who said he was the orderly of Justice Oyewole and the sum of $1.5 million was counted before it was handed over to Jonathan.
“On December 16, 2004, my ADC, Chechet, a Major, also brought in $1 million and gave the money to the defendant in visitors’ waiting room.
“At about 6pm, the defendant called me and told me that his wife was in the house of the then Lagos State Chief Judge Justice Ade Alabi, waiting for Chief Afe Babalola. He called his wife to confirm and at about 11.00 pm, the defendant called to tell me that Chief Afe Babalola had collected the money.
“Sometimes on December 27, 2004, one of my associates brought in $350,000, which was given to the defendant. His boy, Jonathan, also collected $600,000 on January 15, 2005,” the witness said.
He told the court that he raised the fund for which he was duped by the defendant by selling his properties in Victoria Island, Dolphins Estate, Yaba, Lekki in Lagos and Kaduna as well as proceeds from his farm.
Justice Oyefeso adjourned the matter till December 20 for cross-examination of the witness.