The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday trashed the no-case submission filed by a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, in response to the N7.6bn fraud charges against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Justice Mohammed Idris, in his verdict, said Kalu had some explanations to make particularly on certain documents tendered by the EFCC as exhibits in evidence against him.
The ex-governor is facing 39 counts alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited; and Ude Udeogu, who served under him as the Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House. The EFCC first arraigned them before Justice Idris on October 31, 2016.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges, following which the EFCC opened its case, calling 19 witnesses and tendering a load of exhibits. At the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, however, the defendants filed no-case submission, arguing that the EFCC failed to link them to any crime. They urged Justice Idris to dismiss the charges and set them free. The judge, however, disagreed with them in his yesterday’s ruling, holding that they had explanations to make. The judge said: “I am of the view that the defendants have some explanations to make in the light of the exhibits and the evidence so far led. Again, I will say no more. The no-case submission is dismissed.”
He called on the defendants to open their defence, reminding the parties that he had September ending deadline to finish the case. Kalu’s lawyer, Mr Gordy Uche (SAN), however, pleaded with the judge for a six-week adjournment to enable Kalu to go for a surgical operation. “The first defendant has a medical appointment for surgery and the lead counsel in this matter had actually written a letter he wants us to bring to the attention of Your Lordship with respect to the surgery,” Uche said.
He pleaded with the judge to adjourn the case till September 10, 2018. In a short ruling, Justice Idris said he was constrained to grant Uche’s request, thereby adjourning the case to September 10 for the defendants to open their defence.