The accused claimed the Attorney General has asked that the case be discontinued.
A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has fixed June 25 to rule on an application by alleged 419 kingpin, Fred Ajudua, to quash the fraud charges against him.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is accusing Mr. Ajudua of duping Remy Cina and Pierre Vijgen – two Dutch businessmen – of about US$1.69 million (N262 million)
On Monday, Mr. Ajudua told the court to quash the charges on the grounds that Mr. Cina has announced his intention to withdraw the allegations against him.
He also said that the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, had directed that the case be discontinued since the “star witness” had decided not to testify in the case.
“The basic essence of criminal justice is to compensate the alleged victim in the extant case,” said Alex Agba, counsel to Mr. Ajudua.
“The question that is begging for answer is ‘who is interested in this case?'” Mr. Agba added.
Mr. Cina had, on May 11, 2011, submitted his deposition, in addition to his entry visa into Nigeria, before the court that he would not testify in the trial, according to Mr. Agba.
“The man (Mr. Cina) has said that he is no longer interested in continuing with the case, not just orally, but deposed before your Lordship.
“He established that he was not under compulsion to testify, that he made up his mind.
“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,” Mr. Agba added.
In his argument, Wemimo Ogunde, the prosecution counsel, urged the court to hear the evidences of all their witnesses, and not just Mr. Cina’s.
“The court cannot rely on the claim that the so called victim of the crime (Mr. Cina) came to the court, filed an affidavit that he had settled with the defendant and therefore no longer interested to testify; whereas there are several witnesses,” said Mr. Ogunde, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Mr. Ogunde said that “he has never come against” a situation where the court rules on anticipation that the “star witness” would not testify.
“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,” he said.
Mr. Ogunde also said that the court cannot 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.
“If the AGF wants to withdraw the case, he knows what to do,” Mr. Ogunde added.
Earlier, Mr. Ajudua had sought for bail on the grounds of ill health – his lawyer said that one of his kidneys has “collapsed and packed up.”
Spotting a spotless white attire, Mr. Ajudua was in court for the second time in two weeks; after failing to appear in court for eight years.
“I was at Kirikiri Maximum Prison and was rightly informed that he (Mr. Ajudua) had not been treated for the whole day,” said Mr. Agba, while making a case for his client to be freed on bail.
Mr. Agba insisted that his client had been in New Delhi, India, undergoing treatment for his kidney ailment.
“He is not before this court on compulsion, bench warrant, he came voluntarily despite his challenging medical condition,” he said.
However, on the judge’s request, Mr. Agba failed to provide a recent medical report detailing Mr. Ajudua’s ailment – he merely relied on a 2008 report.
“Give me the medical condition of this man today in order to enable me exercise my judicial discretion,” said Mr. Oyewole.
Mr. Agba pleaded for time to obtain the report.
“As regards this application, I will seek for another date to enable me furnish the court with the current medical report,” said Mr. Agba.
The judge advised the defence counsel to focus on the application to quash the charges.
“If the quashing succeeds, no need for bail application. One disposes the entire matter, the other is just a temporary reprieve,” Mr. Oyewole added.