The 12-year corruption trial of former Abia State governor and senator representing the Abia North senatorial district in the National Assembly, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu will continue tomorrow Monday August, 26, 2019 at the Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos.
NewsCritc writes that Kalu, had on Monday, July 22, 2019, opened his defence in an alleged N7.6billion fraud trial involving him and two others before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Kalu is standing trial alongside his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, on an amended 39-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N7.6bn. The offence was said to have been committed between August 2001 and October 2005.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had on May 11, 2018 through its counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, closed its cases after calling 19 witnesses.
However, instead to open his defence, Kalu filed a no-case submission, which was afterwards dismissed by the trial court on July 31, 2018. Dissatisfied with the decision, Kalu approached the Court of Appeal, to upturn the ruling of Justice Idris.
On April 24, 2019 the Appellate Court in a lead judgement by Justice M.L. Garba, upheld the decision of the lower court. The Court of Appeal also dismissed appeals filed by Kalu’s co-defendants challenging the jurisdiction of the court to further hear the case, following the elevation of Justice Idris to the Court of Appeal.
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, thereafter, issued a fresh fiat to Justice Idris to conclude the case.
During the last sitting, Jacobs stated that the day’s proceeding was for the defence to open its case. Responding, Kalu’s lawyer, Awa Kalu, SAN, informed the court that he received a letter from the prosecution informing him of the resumption of the case.
He stated that he had to appear in court out of the respect he had for the court so as to explain his predicament in person. He said “the election petition matters are constrained by time as stipulated in the Constitution and the time for concluding election matters cannot be extended by any court,” Awa Kalu said.
He also told the court that the second and third defendants, Udeogo and Slok Nigeria Limited were not represented in court for today’s proceedings.
Kalu’s lawyer, therefore, asked the court for a short adjournment for the defence to open its case. While acknowledging the receipt of the letter written by Kalu’s counsel, Jacobs argued that the defence could still open its case.
Justice Idris noted that there had been a prior notice to all the parties in the matter, stating that the hearing of the case should resume.
The Judge also held that the absence of counsels to the second and third defendants could not be justified, and therefore, ordered Kalu to open his defence, and Kalu, thereafter, took to the dock to opened his defence.
He is to appear tomorrow to continue with the trial. However, opinions have differed on the possible outcome of the trial. While some hold that Kalu would be nailed, others insist that his joining the APC might protect him from getting sentence. Whilst there are those that submitted that the evidence with which to convict Kalu have disappear and destroyed, thereby making it difficult for the prosecutor to convict him.