Abia leaders have petitioned Muhammadu Buhari and the National Judicial Council ( NJC) demanding immediate full scale investigation into the circumstances surrounding the suspicious suspension of the resumed trial of the embattled former Governor of the state over alleged N7.6 billion fraud levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission ( EFCC) .
The group at a press conference on Friday said the long delay in the trial of the APC chieftain and his active participation in electioneering campaign under the close watch of security operatives in the state would further cast doubt in the anti corruption crusade of the present government .
The leaders in a set to be Monday next week reiterated their earlier demand for the speedy trial of chief kalu
“We have earlier alerted the president and other relevant authorities of the desperate plot by the former Governor to evade justice in his celebrated trial and we insisted that his claimed ill-health was a ploy to delay his trial.
The concerned leaders who spoke through Chief Julius Ogbuagu said ” our people and indeed other patriotic Nigerians were stunned to see the same chief kalu who was reported to have been in a German hospital for surgery participate actively in APC rally on Friday in the sate “. And this was done right under the nose of the anti graft agency , the police and other APC
Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos had on Wednesday said the court would await further directives to proceed with the trial of a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, on charges of N7.2 billion fraud.
But the concerned Abia leaders at a press conference demanded explanation on why the trial was suspended indefinetely . ” Our question is who will give this further directive in this case and why would a trial that started since 2016 be so suspended indefinitely despite public outcry” . Is it political or Judicial directive ” . The trial judge should be magnanimous enough to tell us which directive is he waiting for .
We therefore demand immediate reopening and speedy trial of the former Governor ”
At the last adjourned date on November 12, 2018, Kalu was absent from trial, after being absent on a previous adjourned date of November 5, 2018. Although the defence counsel had informed the court that he was away for medical treatment in Germany, the court had revoked his bail and ordered that at the point of his entry into the country, he must submit himself and all relevant travelling documents to the EFCC, failing which he would be arrested. The court had then adjourned the case until January 23, for the continuation of trial.
On Wednesday, the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), appearing for the prosecution, informed the court that in spite of its order, the accused had refused to submit himself or his travelling documents to the EFCC.
He argued that such attitude constituted a clear disregard for the court, adding that in the circumstance, he would urge the court to give effect to the provisions of Section 352(4) of the ACJA and continue with the trial of the accused even in his absence.
Jacobs urged the court to order defence to call in its witnesses, failing which the court is allowed by the provisions of the law, to close their case.
Responding, counsel to the accused, Mr. Awa Kalu (SAN), expressed his displeasure with the submissions of the prosecution, noting that such arguments should be put in an affidavit for the defence to reply.
He said that on January 10, he had received fresh fiat in respect of some other matters before him, adding that the case in point was not mentioned. Idris said that for this reason, he had strong doubt if he should continue with proceedings, adding that it was important he acted with abundant caution.
“I should not proceed further, otherwise, I will be acting without authority. So, in the circumstance, I am of the view that further proceedings shouldn’t go on until I receive further instructions,” he said.