- The president of the Court of Appeal has directed that the alleged fraud case of former Abia state governor, Orji Kalu, be concluded before the end of September
- Kalu is being prosecuted for allegedly diverting N2.9 billion from Abia state’s treasury, while he was a state governor between 1999 and 2007
- The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the 34 charges against them
Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the president of the Court of Appeal, has directed that the alleged N2.9 billion fraud case of former Abia state governor, Orji Kalu, must be concluded before the end of September 2018, The Punch reports.
NAIJ.com gathered that the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, said this on Monday, July 16, at the resumed proceedings in the case at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), the lawyer to Kalu, had earlier written to the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Bulkachuwa, to release Justice Idris to enable him to conclude hearing of Kalu’s case, which is already at an advanced stage.
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The defence counsel made the request pursuant to Section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which allows a high court judge elevated to the Court of Appeal to conclude all partly-heard cases in his docket at the high court.
The prosecuting counsel for the federal government, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), and other defence counsel, Chief K.C. Nwofor (SAN) and Solo Akuma (SAN), at the Monday proceedings, gave their consent that Justice Idris should conclude the case despite his elevation to the Court of Appeal.
Kalu is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly diverting N2.9 billion from the state’s treasury. He was charged alongside his company and Ude Udeogu, who served under him as the director of finance and account, Abia state government House.
However, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the 34 charges pressed against them. Justice Idris adjourned till Tuesday, July 17, for ruling.
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In a previous report by NAIJ.com, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on Friday, May 11, closed its case against a former Governor of Abia state, Orji Kalu and two others charged with N3.2 billion fraud.
The EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), announced closure of the prosecution’s case at the Federal High Court, Lagos.
He, however, informed the court that the prosecution intended to amend the charge against the accused to reflect more evidence.
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