Wednesday, 22 April 2015

How I Was Defrauded By Court Registrar- Ex-Chief of Army Staff Laments

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The Chief of Army Staff under the late former military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, Lt.Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (retd.), on Tuesday, narrated to a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja how he was allegedly swindled by an alleged serial fraudster, Fred Ajudua, with the aid of a suspended court registrar, Mrs. Oluronke Rosulu.

Bamaiyi appeared as a witness before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, where Rosulu, the then registrar to Justice Olubunmi Oyewole, is facing two counts of conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretence.
According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Rosulu allegedly connived with Ajudua to defraud Bamaiyi of $330,000 on November 20, 2004.
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The money was allegedly obtained from Bamaiyi by Ajudua with the aid of Rosulu, under the false pretence that the sum represented the professional or legal fee demanded by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) to represent Bamaiyi in court.
Then, Bamaiyi was standing trial before Justice Oyewole over the allegation of attempted murder of the publisher of The Guardian Newspapers, Mr. Alex Ibru and two others.
Ajudua had allegedly told Bamaiyi that he was a lawyer and that on the advice of the then Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Ade Alabi (retd.) and the then Lagos Attorney General, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), it was best for him to hire Babalola as his lawyer, in order to facilitate his release from the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons in Lagos, where he was remanded.
Rosulu, whose trial had now been separated from that of Ajudua for want of speedy trial, was alleged by the EFCC to have violated Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 13 of 1995.
Led in evidence by the EFCC lawyer, Seidu Atteh, Bamaiyi said, “On November 23, 1999, I was in cell 5, first floor, at Kirikiri Maximum Prisons. Later Ajudua and Ade Bendel were brought in at the block. I and Ajudua were together in my cell, so we became friends.
“Ajudua told me that he was a lawyer and that he had studied my case, and found out that it was purely political. Ajudua told me that he was interested in the case and that he had sent his wife to see the Lagos Chief Judge, Justice Ade Alabi and the state Attorney General, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, over the matter. I was told that the CJ was the one in contact with Chief (Afe) Babalola.
“I was told that Chief Babalola charged $18m as professional fee. I was then told that the money was to be paid through Justice Oyewole. Ajudua told me that Justice Oyewole was going to send his registrar (Rosulu).
“On October 23, 2004, which was Rosulu’s first visit to me in Kirikiri, the defendant came to the visiting room with Ajudua and confirmed to me that she was sent by Justice Oyewole. She came with Ajudua alongside a prison officer, ACP Abdullahi Garuba.
“On November 6, 2004 at 10am, which was her second visit, the defendant came with Ajudua to the prison, alongside ACP Garuba. This time she came with her daughter, who she said was from the university. The defendant assured me that any money released through Justice Oyewole would get to Chief Babalola.
“Before the defendant’s third visit on November 20, 2004, a friend of mine had arranged $330,000 for me. The money was brought in a ‘Ghana-Must-Go’ bags to the prison. I showed Ajudua the money and he said he would send one Jonathan, his boy, to assist us in counting the money. The money was counted in the presence of the defendant (Rosulu) and the prison officer (ACP Garuba).
“That evening, Ajudua told me that the defendant called and confirmed delivering the said money to Justice Oyewole and the same had been taken to Chief Babalola. I never met her again until December 19, 2013 at the Lagos office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“Not hearing from Chief Babalola after a while, then Ajudua had travelled to India, I suspected that something was wrong.
“I called Ajudua’s line in India to tell him that Justice Oyewole said he never received any money and Chief Babalola did not handle my case. Ajudua asked me how I got Justice Oyewole’s number and since then he stopped receiving call on that line.”
During cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mr. Bamidele Ogundele, the retired General said that Rosulu never introduced herself to him as a legal officer or a member of staff in the office of Chief Babalola.
Bamaiyi added that Rosulu did not sign any document on receiving the $330,000 claimed to be part payment for Babalola’s legal services.
Rosulu’s trial was, on October 24 last year, separated from that of Ajudua, who had hitherto stalled the proceeding with various applications.
Her lawyer, Ogundele, had pleaded with Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye that Rosulu, who had been suspended as a court registrar, needed to know her fate before her retirement due for this year.
Ogundele told the court that unlike Ajudua who had several pending applications stalling the trail, her own client desired a timeous trial, adding that out of the 32 counts filed by EFCC, Rosulu was involved in only two.

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