Go and face trial, supreme court tells Kalu
… Ex-Governor Says Ready For trial
The Supreme Court yesterday in Abuja gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the go ahead to prosecute former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, over alleged N5.6billion fraud.
The 107-count corruption charge is linked to his alleged complicity in money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds during his tenure between 1999 and 2007.
He was charged before the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 27, 2007, but the case has suffered setbacks in the last eight years from his interlocutory applications.
Kalu first challenged the competence of the charge against him and the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine the case.
When court, refused to quash the charge, he took the case to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which in a unanimous judgment upheld the competence of the charge and jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.
Dissatisfied, Kalu approached the Supreme Court to set aside the rulings of the two lower courts.
His Counsel, Chief Awa Kalu (SAN) urged the five-man panel of Justices, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, to quash the criminal charge against him, insisting that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie nexus linking him to the ingredients of the offence contained in the charge.
He contended that the proof of evidence adduced against him by the EFCC did not link him to any crime.
But the apex court, in a unanimous judgment, dismissed the appeal and ordered him to go and face his trial before the High Court.
Justice Suleiman Galadima, who delivered the lead verdict, said the apex court was satisfied that Kalu has a case to answer pertaining to allegations against him.
It ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to re-assign the case to another Judge to enable the trial to commence de-novo (afresh) and that it should be given accelerated hearing.
Meanwhile, the former governor has expressed readiness to face trial and prove his innocence on the 107-count corruption charge against him.
Kalu, in response to the judgment, restated his innocence, saying he was ready to go to court and face trial.
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