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N7.6bn Fraud: Judge Berates Uzor Kalu Over Absence In Court



A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday describes as “highly irresponsible” the absence of the former governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, who is being tried for a N7.6 billion fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from his trial.

Justice Mohammed Idris, who is conducting the trial, apparently irked by the action of the former governor said, “No one, no matter how highly placed, can be above the law. Let it be said loud and clear that this court will apply the law with the full force it requires.”

It will be recalled that Justice Idris, who has been elevated to the Court of Appeal and was given till the end of September by the President of the upper court to conclude the trial,  had fixed Monday for Kalu to open his defence.

But at the resumed hearing of the case, the former governor’s lawyer, Gordy Uche (SAN) told the judge that his client is outside the country for a medical procedure.

Uche said, “The medical appointment was slated for the 2nd of August, but he could not book a flight to Germany to meet up with the appointment.

“Unfortunately, the surgeon went on summer vacation and he could only get another appointment today (Monday).”

The lawyer, therefore, urged Justice Idris to further adjourn the case “to enable his client undergo his surgery and have enough time to recover because only the living can be tried.”

But opposing the application for further adjournment, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), insisted that the former governor had no justification to be absent from court.

Jacobs informed the judge that after applying for a six-week adjournment on July 31, 2018, Kalu had been going about the country engaging in political activities including going to the Northern part of the country to receive a traditional title.

He pointed out that since the court has till the end of September to conclude the case, he, therefore urged the judge to revoke Kalu’s bail for abandoning his trial.