High court directs exhibit service in Orji Kalu’s trial
A Federal High Court, Lagos has directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure proper service of all documents it intends to use in the prosecution of former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and two others on the defendants.
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. They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The court gave the directive following the objections raised yesterday by the defendants’ counsel to the admissibility of a document sought to be tendered by EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) as exhibit.
Jacobs had in the course of examining the third prosecution witness, Tunde Adeniyi David, tendered the statements of account of Abia State Government House and urged the court to admit same as exhibits.
This move was however objected to by the defence counsel on the ground that the document was different from what was front-loaded by the prosecution in the proof of evidence.
In his submissions, Kalu’s counsel, Goddy Uche (SAN) said it is wrong for the prosecution to seek to tender a document that was never made available to the defence.
“The documents being shown to us were not front-loaded. They are totally different from what was front-loaded in the proof of evidence. We are totally taken by surprise this morning,” he said.
Counsel to the 2nd defendant, Solo Akuma (SAN), however, urged the court to reject the documents over the failure of the prosecution to comply with Section 379 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which mandates the front-loading of all documents it intends to rely on in a criminal trial.
“We therefore urge the court to reject the documents owing to the failure of the prosecution to front-load it in the proof of evidence,” he said.
Akuma’s position was also corroborated by the third defendant’s counsel, K. C. Nwofo (SAN).
In his ruling, Justice Idris held that having not been earlier front-loaded, the document is not yet admissible.
Further hearing in the matter continues today.
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