Court rejects Orji Kalu’s objection to EFCC witness
Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday rejected the objection raised by former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, trying to disqualify a witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Kalu alongside his former aide, Udeh Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, are standing trial before the court on an amended 34 count-charge of alleged N3.2 billion fraud.
At the hearing of the matter on Monday, the EFCC through its prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had called his witness, Mr. Onovie Oghenevo, banker to give evidence.
However, counsel for Kalu and other defendants which includes: Mike Ozekhome, Goddy Uche Kalu, C.A. Uwelunta, and Solo Akumah, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), had objected to the witness giving evidence in the trial, on the ground that his statement is not attached to the proof-of-evidence.
They had argued that the EFCC’s action was not in conformity with Section 36(6) of the 1999 Constitution, and Section 379(1) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which made it mandatory and fundamental for the prosecution to furnish the defence with all materials needed to defend themselves.
However, the prosecutor, Mr. Jacobs (SAN), in response urged the court to allow his witness to give evidence in the trial. He told the court that the witness is a signatory to some of the documents to be tendered in the trial.
He further informed the court that the witness is a witness of the court, because he was subpoenaed by the court, adding that by Provision of Section 241 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), the prosecution is at liberty to apply to court for issuance of subpoena on a witness to bring with him the documents he has for his evidence.
Delivering ruling on the submission of both parties on Tuesday, Justice Idris said there is no dispute that the witness is listed and what he intend to tender are in the proof-of-evidence, except his statement.
He later adjourned ruling till tomorrow.