A one-time Lagos socialite, Fred Ajudua, on Monday in Lagos challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over a $4.8 million fraud charge it slammed against him.
Mr. Ajudua, who challenged the right of the commission to prosecute him for defrauding a former Chief of Army Staff, Ishaya Bamaiyi, is also challenging the jurisdiction of an Ikeja High Court to try the case.
The EFCC had accused Mr. Ajudua of defrauding Mr. Bamaiyi while both were in prison custody in 2004 for different offences.
The EFCC said Mr. Ajudua had approached Mr. Bamaiyi, who was facing trial for the attempted murder of Alex Ibru, the late publisher of the Guardian Newspaper, and convinced him that he could help to secure his freedom.
According to the commission, Ajudua received $4.8 million from Bamaiyi under the guise that the money was the legal fees for the law firm of Afe Babalola and Co.
Ronke Rosulu, a court registrar and Mr. Ajudua’s alleged accomplice, who allegedly helped him funnel the funds from the prison, was sentenced in a separate trial on Dec. 21, 2005 to 10 years in prison by Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo.
During Monday’s proceeding, counsel to Mr. Ajudua, Norrison Quakers, in an application dated January 6 challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.
He also urged the court to quash the charge brought against Mr. Ajudua by the EFCC.
“We have filed an affidavit and a reply in points of law challenging the jurisdiction of this court to hear this case.
“The law also provides that an information in this charge can only be filed by the Attorney-General of the state and not the EFCC,” he said.
Responding, counsel to the EFCC, S.A. Atteh, said there was a judgment of the Court of Appeal upholding the right of the EFCC to prosecute the case.
“We have filed a counter-affidavit dated February 9 urging the court to allow the judgment of the Court of Appeal on whether the EFCC has a fiat to prosecute this case.
“I urge the court to dismiss the application of the defence and call the defendant to take his plea,” he said.
Justice Oyefeso adjourned the case to March 30 for ruling.