Court rules today on Kalu’s objection in N3.2 billion suit
• Ex-gov dons Muslim regalia during trial
A Federal High Court yesterday in Lagos fixed today for ruling on the objection by former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State to the evidence of a prosecution witness in his trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on October 31, 2016, slammed a 34-count charge of N3.2 billion fraud against Kalu, his company, Slok Nigeria Limited and erstwhile Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo when held sway as state chief executive between 1999 and 2007.
However, the ex-governor appeared for trial in a Muslim regalia.
Justice Mohammed Idris had stood down the case for 45 minutes to enable defence cite some authorities to back up their grounds of objection to the decision of the prosecution to present PW4, Romanus Madu.
A Permanent Secretary in Abia State, Madu is currently giving evidence in court as the fourth witness.
He told the judge that there were some names of people, including his, alleged to have collected millions of naira, as captured in various bank drafts.
Led in evidence by EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Madu said he did not author a statement requesting for the sum of N30.8 million bank draft in the course of his duties as a cashier then at the Government House, Umuahia in 2005.
The prosecutor also showed him two other applications for the bank drafts written by one Obasi John and Ogbonna J., which he also denied knowledge of.
Madu maintained that he knew nothing about bank drafts, as he usually collects cash and hands it over to his “superior”.
When Jacobs further sought to extract the witness’ evidence on the three applications, it was opposed by the defence counsel.
In his objection, Kalu’s lawyer, Chief Awa Kalu (SAN) said the prosecutor’s action was against the spirit of the Evidence Act. He argued that the witness cannot be asked to compare signatures of persons he claimed he did not know.
In the same vein, counsel to the third accused (Slok), K. C. Nwofo (SAN), also argued that it was only an expert that could be asked questions on such a contentious issue.
In his response, however, the prosecutor insisted that the witness was “highly qualified” to give evidence on the statement which he argued was written and signed by him.
According to him, evidence with regards to handwriting is not an exclusive preserve of an expert.
The anti-graft agency claimed that the defendants used the following banks to perpetrate the alleged fraud namely Manny Bank, Spring Bank Plc (now Heritage Bank), defunct Standard Trust Bank (United Bank for Africa Plc) and Fin Bank (First City Monument Bank).
After listening to their arguments, Justice Idris adjourned till June 6, 2017 for judgment.
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