The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, has fixed February 7, 2019 for the hearing of an appeal filed by a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, against the ruling of the Federal High Court in Lagos dismissing his no-case submission application.
The trial judge, Justice Mohammed had dismissed Kalu’s application seeking to stop his trial by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N7.6 billion fraud on July 31, 2018
The Court of Appeal had also fixed the same date to hear separate appeals filed by the former Governor’s co-accused, Udeh Jones Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Limited, on the same subject matter.
The presiding judge, Justice Garuba Lawal, fixed the date after listening to submissions of appellants’ lawyers; S. E. Elema (SAN), Solo Akuma (SAN) and Kinsley Nwofo (SAN), regarding the transmission of record of appeal.
The EFCC was represented at yesterday’s proceedings by Adebisi Adeniyi.
Justice Idris, in his ruling on the no case submission application held that Kaluand his co-accused persons have some explanations to make particularly on certain documents tendered by the EFCC as exhibits in evidence against him.
He further held, “I am of the view that the defendants have some explanations to make in the light of the exhibits and the evidence so far led. Again, I will say no more. The no-case submission is dismissed”.
After the ruling was delivered, the former Governor, through his lawyer, Chief Awa Kalu (SAN) filed a notice of appeal dated August 1, 2018, urging the upper court to overturn the decision of the lower court.
In the notice of appeal, Kalu maintained that all the evidences supplied by the prosecution witnesses had no “nexus,” with him, and as such there was no way a prima facie case against him would have been established.
The former governor contended that it would amount to “miscarriage of justice,” to compel him to defend a matter in which no “prima facie” case has been established against him.
In one of the grounds of the appeal, the former governor said the lower court erred in law when it held that he has a case to answer “notwithstanding the fact that the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses neither had any nexus with him nor make out a prima facie case against the appellant.
On the particulars of the error, he maintained that none of the prosecution witnesses gave any evidence linking him with any of the charges.
He added that there was no evidence that any of his co-accused acted at his behest or on his behalf.
“No fund whatsoever was neither traced to the personal bank accounts of the appellant nor was the appellant shown to have personally benefitted himself from the said funds alleged to have been stolen or laundered.
“No financial document was shown to have been made or any financial transaction shown to have been performed or transacted by the appellant in relation to the funds the subject matter of the charge.
“The prosecution had not made out a case against the appellant. There was nothing for the appellant to defend and no justification for the appellant to be put through the rigors of a full trial”, he said.
On ground two, Kalu contended that the lower court erred in law when it held that “Exhibits B1-B28, 34, J, L, N1-N15, P1-P34, T8 and U” linked him with the offences charged and thereby required him to make some explanations by way of entering into his defence.
Four particulars of error that accompanied this ground are:
“None of the documentary evidence and financial records were made by the appellant or had any bearing to the appellant.
“The exhibits mentioned above did not show prima facie evidence of conspiracy or money laundering against the appellant.
“The appellant cannot be expected to prove his innocence when there is no nexus between him and the evidence led by the prosecution.
“The appellant will suffer gross miscarriage of justice to be compelled to defend a matter in which no prima facie case had been made out against him”.
The former governor is consequently asking the Court of Appeal to set aside the ruling of the Federal High Court delivered in respect of the case on July 31.