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CRIME

Failure Of EFCC To Produce Witness Stalls Ex-Abia States Governor, Others’ Trial

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The trial of former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu was Tuesday stalled due to the failure of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to produce one of its major witnesses in court.

The EFCC is prosecuting Kalu, his Commissioner for Finance, Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited on an amended 34 count charge of N3.2 billion fraud.

They were alleged to have used the following banks to perpetrate the alleged fraud, Manny Bank, Spring Bank Plc,( now Heritage Bank), the defunct Standard Trust Bank, now United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and Fin Land Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).

They however all pleaded not guilty to the charge.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) informed Justice Mohammed Idris that the witness in question one M.A. Udoh had been evasive, and the anti graft agency was having difficulty bringing him to court.

Jacobs, therefore, urged the court to grant a short adjournment to enable him to locate and bring the witness, a retired employee of the Abia State Government House, Umuahia, to court to testify.

The defence counsel, Chief Awa Kali (SAN) opposed the move for an adjournment, describing it as frivolous.

The senior lawyer expressed disappointment at the EFCC’s request for an adjournment, and indicated their readiness to continue.

He also told the court that he and most of the other defence lawyers in the case had flown to Lagos from Abuja just to ensure that there was no further delay in the case that had lasted for over 10 years.

Kalu then urged the court to either foreclose the prosecution’s case or in the alternative order the EFCC to bear the cost of their transportation and hotel accommodation.

But the EFCC counsel countered by reminding the court that the case was delayed for over 10 years at the instance of the defendants who pursued an interlocutory appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.

In his ruling, Justice Idris, described the development as unfortunate.

He noted that the case had been adjourned on four different occasions at the request of the prosecution.

Though he conceded to an adjournment, the judge warned that it would be the last of its kind.

He then fixed further proceedings for January 22 and 23rd.



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