Ikeja - A one-time Lagos socialite, Fred Ajudua, on Monday asked an Ikeja High Court to quash the fraud charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ajudua is being prosecuted for allegedly defrauding two Dutch businessmen – Messrs Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen, of 1.69 million US dollars (N252.8 million).
He was arraigned alongside an associate, Charles Orie, in 2003, but later stopped attending court proceedings after he was granted bail.
The trial judge, Justice Joseph Oyewole had, on June 11, ordered Ajudua to be remanded in prison custody for absconding from court for almost eight years.
At the resumption of the matter on Monday, his counsel, Mr Alex Agba, in an application dated June 17, asked the court to quash the charges against his client.
Agba said one of the complainants, Cina, had indicated his unwillingness to continue with the case and had deposed to an affidavit to that effect.
He said :" Cina had on May 11, 2011, submitted his deposition, in addition to his entry visa into Nigeria, before the court, that he will not testify in the trial.
"The man has said that he was no longer interested in continuing with the case, not just orally, but deposed before your Lordship.
"There is no deposition in the counter affidavit stating that the withdrawal did not emanate from the supposed victim.
"If we continue, it becomes an exercise in futility."
He further claimed that the Attorney-General of the Federation had directed that the matter be discontinued as a result of Cina's withdrawal.
Agba said these were sufficient grounds to quash the charges.
Opposing the application, the EFCC counsel, Wemimo Ogunde (SAN), said the charges could not be dropped without hearing the evidence of all witnesses.
Ogunde said the court could not rely on the claim that Cina had settled with Ajudua and was no longer interested in testifying to quash the charges.
He said: "Some other witnesses are in court. What will happen to their evidence?
"If the court rules, it will be that the court has anticipated that the prosecution will not be able to prove its case. That will be a travesty of justice."
Ogunde said the court could not rely on the claims of a purported letter by the AGF withdrawing the case, since there was no evidence of such letter before the court.
"There are two known reasons for quashing of charges by a court -- when a case of no prima facie case is made before hearing of the case and during a no-case submission.
"The court cannot rule based on the anticipation that the star witness will not come. I have never come against something like that before. It is speculative," he said.
NAN reports that the court had earlier deferred the hearing of Ajudua's fresh bail application.
Agba asked the court to grant him more time to enable him provide sufficient proof that Ajudua was suffering from a complicated ailment.
The matter was adjourned till June 25 for ruling on the application to quash the charges.