Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, a former Chief of Army Staff, has told Lagos High Court, Ikeja, that Chief Fred Ajudua a former Lagos socialite and alleged serial conman, swore with the life of his only son not to defraud him.
Bamaiyi made the disclosure while being cross-examined by the defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo, SAN, during the trial of Ajudua for allegedly swindling him of the sum of $8.4million in 2004 while the duo was in the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons.
Responding to Ojo’s question why he did not ask for receipts from Ajudua as proof of receiving the funds, Bamaiyi said that he trusted Ajudua especially when his trust was further strengthened Ajudua swearing with his son’s life not to defraud him.
“I trusted him completely; you don’t understand the concept and level of trust I had. I’m a father and a grandfather; I understand these things. If as a father he (Ajudua) swears that his only son should die if he should defraud me; that is more than sufficient receipt.
“When he defrauded me, I initially kept quiet. It was after he ran away for six-years that I decided to complain. By God, I never knew I will find myself in court,” Bamaiyi said.
The former Chief of Army Staff said that the funds which were given to Ajudua for payment for the legal services of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), were brought to him in prison by family members, friends and staff.
He said prison rules allowed money meant for the payment of legal representation to be brought into the premises of the prison. He noted that he had recorded every money brought to the prison in his diary.
“Sometimes money was put in our food containers, the money is counted in the presence of the prison officers, so it was not hidden.
“My lord, I said it before and let me repeat, when visitors come with the food containers, he who brings the food will taste it so that they will not poison the inmate. The food container has food on top, that is the one they will taste, money is kept underneath the container.
“To me, the counting of the money is a record; the prison authorities knew about this money and it constitutes as records to the prison authorities. I can remember the specifics each person brought; my former ADC, Timothy Chechet, brought $1million each on two different occasions,” Bamaiyi said.
He said the individuals who brought some of the foreign currency gave statements to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) confirming that they brought money to the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons.
Explaining the source of the funds, Bamaiyi said the money was given to him by friends who did not want their identity disclosed. He also said the funds were sourced from his personal savings, property and farming businesses.
He also said some of the funds were withdrawn from his account from NAL Merchant Bank now Sterling Bank Plc.
Following the revelation Ojo requested for a copy of Bamaiyi’s statement of account at NAL Merchant Bank, noting that the prosecution had not frontloaded a copy of the statement to the defence.
Responding Mr Tope Banjo, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, said an additional proof of evidence containing the requested bank statement would be filed in court by the prosecution by the next court date.
Justice Josephine Oyefeso adjourned the case until Sep. 16 and 19 for continuation of trial.