Court scolds former governor Uzor Kalu over absence from trial
Says he must be in court on Sept 20
Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday berated former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu, for absenting himself from the continuation of his alleged N7.65 billion fraud trial.
The judge described as “highly irresponsible” the conduct of the former governor in the case since July 31, 2018 when his no-case submission was dismissed and he was directed to open his defence.
Justice Idris recalled that on July 31 after he had dismissed Kalu’s case and directed him to open his defence, the former governor begged for a six-week adjournment on the claim that he had a surgery appointment in Germany.
But the judge on Monday said he doubted that Kalu had any such appointment as of July 27 when he wrote to the court to seek a six-week adjournment of his trial.“The letter for the adjournment of July 31, 2018 was written on July 27, 2018 and forwarded to this court on July 31, 2018.
“From the email correspondence of July 31, 2018 sent at 11.29am GMT by one Ifunanya, it appears that the said German surgeon was not even available for an appointment with the 1st defendant, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, when the letter of July 27, 2018 was written and when the application for an adjournment was made on the July 31, 2018.
“It appears from the said email that as at the July 31, an appointment had not yet been made. I agree with the learned counsel for the prosecution that there is indeed no letter from the said German surgeon that the 1st defendant would require any surgery whatsoever. The entire scenario appears to me ridiculous,” he declared.
Earlier when the case was called, Kalu’s counsel, Gordy Uche (SAN), had lamented: “We seem to have a little problem with the 1st defendant. The medical appointment was slated for August 2, but he couldn’t get a flight to Germany. Unfortunately, the surgeon went on summer vacation. However, the appointment is slated for today (Monday).”
While urging the court to further adjourn to enable his client do the surgery and recover, Uche quipped that “only the living can be tried.”
But opposing the application for further adjournment, counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), contended that the former governor had no justification to be absent from court yesterday.
While noting that Justice Idris had been given September deadline to conclude the case, Jacobs urged the judge to revoke Kalu’s bail for absenting himself from the court. He, however, adjourned the case till September 20 and 21, 2018, when “Kalu must make himself available”.