Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, dismissed a no-case submission filed by a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, in his bid to stop his trial over an alleged N3.2 billion fraud.
Mr Kalu is currently a chieftain of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, and is one of the key supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari in the South-east.
Mr Kalu alongside his former Commissioner for Finance and Account, Jones Udeogu, and a company, Slok Nigeria Limited, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on an amended 39-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N3.2 billion.
The EFCC, through its counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, had, on Friday, May 11, closed its case against the defendants, after the conclusion of evidence given by a prosecution witness, Chidi Chukwuka, Deputy Director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC.
During the May 11, 2018 proceedings, the prosecution counsel had also moved an oral application to amend the charge against the defendants in view of the evidence given so far.
However, the defence led by Awa Kalu, had, on May 28 filed a no-case submission on behalf of their clients, which they subsequently adopted as their written address.
In his short ruling on the no case-submission today, Justice Idris held that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the defendants based on the evidence against the defendants.
The judge also held that there was a link between Mr Kalu and the two others.
“You have explanations to make,” the judge said.
Following the ruling, one of the defence counsel, Goddy Uche, informed the court that the lead counsel to the defendants, Awa Kalu, had written to notify the court that Mr Kalu has an appointment to undergo a surgery abroad.
He, therefore, prayed the court to adjourn the matter to September 10 to enable the first defendant, Mr Kalu, to open his defence.
In his response, the prosecution counsel, Mr Jacobs, urged the court to adjourn further proceedings to the first week of September, saying that “The President of the Court of Appeal has directed that the matter must be concluded before the end of September 2018.”
Consequently, Justice Idris adjourned the case to September 10, 2018 for the defendants to open their defence.