Sunday, October 17, 2021

Kalu’s trial stalls over absence of witness

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of a former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, was evading appearance.

Mr Kalu was arraigned alongside his former aide, Jones Udeogu, and a company, Slok Nigeria Ltd, on October 31, 2016 by the EFCC.

They were charged before Justice Mohammed Idris on a 34-count charge bordering on N3.2billion fraud.

They pleaded not guilty.

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When the case was called on Tuesday, EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, informed the court that the matter was for continuation of trial, but his witness was absent.

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Mr Jacobs told the court that the witness, Mike Udoh, had repeatedly made himself unavailable whenever he was due to appear in court to give evidence.

He accused some unknown persons of being behind Udoh’s absence, adding that such persons would also be prosecuted.

The EFCC counsel then applied for a short adjournment to enable the agency to tidy up the situation.

The counsel to Kalu, Awa Kalu , accused the EFCC of a ploy to foist an adjournment on the court.

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He said that there were several other witnesses listed by the prosecution, and the absence of one witness should not delay the court.

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The counsel to the second accused (Udeogu), Mr Solo Akuma, SAN, adopted Kalu’s submissions, describing the EFCC’s application for adjournment as unnecessary.

Counsel to the third accused, Slok Nig. Ltd C.C. Nwofo, also aligned himself with the submissions of other defence counsel in objecting to the request for adjournment.

In a bench ruling, Justice Idris upheld Jacob’s application for adjournment, but added that it would be the final adjournment allowed.

Mr Idris, consequently, adjourned the case until Jan. 22 and 23 for continuation of trial.


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