The Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, presided over by Justice Mojisola Dada, of yesterday heard how alleged fraud kingpin, Fred Ajudua allegedly battered and defrauded a German, Ziad Abu Zalaf and a company, Zalaf Technical International Ltd, of the sum of $1 million 25 years ago.
Zalaf, a prosecution witness, in the trial of Ajudua, and one Joseph Ochunor, told the judge that the accused persons defrauded him of the sum of $550,000 through a fake Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) contract.
He further told the court that he only became aware that Ajudua is a serial fraudster through a BBC documentary where some of the victims he duped were interviewed.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting the accused persons on a 12 count charge bordering on fraud and conspiracy.
The anti-graft agency also alleged that Ajudua uttered forged Central Bank of Nigeria official Receipt No. 128 and No. 138 purported to have been issued by the CBN to Mr Ziad Abu Zalaf as genuine.
The commission further accused him of forging a contract Completion Certificate purported to have issued by the Nigerian Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Falomo, Lagos to defraud Technical International Limited.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.While being led in evidence by the EFCC counsel, Seidu Atteh, Zalaf claimed that he met Joseph Ochonor sometimes in 1993.
The witness further testified that Joseph who is now at large arranged for a visa for him to come to Nigeria and he did arrive towards the end of March 1993.
He said, “When I arrived Nigeria, I was picked by one Jerry in a white Limousine jeep and the driver was driving anyhow without even stopping for red light.
“I was checked into an hotel and they said they will come and pick me the next morning by 9 am and they did. We headed to Ajudua’s office thereafter and we met him in the office posing as a legal practitioner. He told me he will be representing me as a lawyer and that I should not worry.
“He thereafter took me to a bank and I saw a file named in the contract name. A bank official explained to me that there is a fee to be paid. Ajudua also took the file, saying he will go and study it.
Abu Zalaf also told the court that Ajudua instructed Joseph to give him his bank details and that when he is satisfied after going through the document, he will be called to transfer the money.
“I noticed the piece of paper handed to me has the name and address of someone else but when I asked him he said the person in question takes care of all his international and local transactions. I thereafter went back to Germany.
“On the first of April, he called me that everything is okay that I should send the money, so I transferred the sum of $268,000,000 on the 2nd of April. I also got a confirmation on the 7th of April through a phone call and I was also told that I already have a certificate of completion.
“I told him I was going to come down to Nigeria and he asked me to bring additional $375,000 but I told him I only have $300,000.’’
The witness further told the court that when he got to Nigeria, he met Ajudua in his office and he informed him that the money has been reduced to $224 and I handed him the money.
“Ajudua picked the money and dropped it at the Central Bank of Nigeria and he got a receipt and he later brought a certificate of completion which indicates that everything is fine.
“Shortly, he was also asking me for another $521,000, saying it will be the last time I will be paying for the contract, I came with Mr Michael Kramer and we gave him the money and went back to Germany but we didn’t hear anything from him again.
According to Abu Zalaf, he decided to come to Nigeria without informing Ajudua but he was not received in his office, rather he was battered.
“When I got to his office, I was not allowed to see him but I could hear his voice. When I eventually met him, he was angry and shouting at the top of his voice, trying to intimidate me, it was then I realized something was very wrong.
“He called some of his boys who were dressed in military uniform and they took me out of his office to the compound harassing me, I was hit on my mouth and I lost two of my front teeth.
“I reported at the German Consulate where I also lodged a complaint before I left the country.
“Later I saw Ajudua in a documentary made by BBC and some of the victim he duped were showed on Tv and I also learnt that EFCC are helping the victim he duped.
“I got the email and I contacted them and they said they will be glad to help me. I handed over all the documents to them and I came in 2004 to give evidence with the EFCC.
The prosecuting counsel, however asked for an adjournment because of the documents that are not available to continue the trial.
Counsel to the defendant, Chief Norrison Quakers did not object to the prosecution’s plea for an adjournment.
He however urged the court to admonish the prosecution to reply to his application for bail.
Justice Dada thereafter adjourned the matter till June 13, 2018.