X
    Categories: On the GoThe Nation

Orji Kalu’s ‘medical trip to Germany’ stalls N3.2bn ‘fraud’ trial

A federal high court in Lagos state has adjourned the trial of Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia state, till September 20 and 21 due to his absence in court.

Goddy Uche, Kalu’s counsel, attributed his absence to a trip to Germany for a medical surgery.

Led by Awa Kalu, the defence, had on May 28 filed a no-case submission on behalf of the accused.

But Muhammed Idris, the presiding judge, struck out the application.

The former governor, Jones Udeogu, his commissioner for finance, and Slok Nigeria Limited, Kalu’s company, are facing trial for an alleged N3.2 billion fraud.

In October 2016, the defendants were charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly stealing the sum, belonging to the Abia state government.

An amended 39-count charge was leveled against them but Kalu was granted bail after pleading “not guilty”.

NAN reports that at the resumed trial on Monday, Uche told the court that Kalu’s medical appointment, scheduled for August 2, with the court’s permission, was unable to proceed as the accused could not get a flight to Germany before the surgery.

He said the surgery was rescheduled for September 10 and prayed the court to grant a deferment.

“In the 11 years of trial, the first accused has always been present and punctual. We compassionately plead for this short adjournment to enable him do the surgery and recover,” he said.

Rotimi Jacobs, EFCC prosecutor, objected to the application for an adjournment, saying Kalu has “jumped bail”.

“My lord, this is a mockery of the entire proceeding and it is deliberate. The first accused has jumped his bail and I urge my lord to revoke his bail,” he said.

In his response, Idris said the conduct of the defendant was “very irresponsible” and “ridiculous”.

He said the defending counsel’s application will not be granted as the “rule of law will be applied in full force”.