Court to Rule Today on Kalu’s Request to Stop EFCC Witness

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Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos will today rule on an application filed by a former Governor Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, seeking to stop a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Romanus Madu, from giving evidence on a document which was alleged to have been forged.

The witness had while being led in evidence by the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), at the resumed hearing of the trial of the former governor and two others over alleged fraud, denied authoring a statement requesting for the sum of N30.8 million bank draft in the course of his duties as a cashier in Abia State Government House in 2005.

“This is my name on it but I was not the person who wrote it. This is not my handwriting and my signature is not there too,” he said.
Afterwards, the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, showed him two other applications for bank drafts written by Obasi John and Ogbonna J.
He, however, denied knowing any of the two individuals at Abia State Government House.

“I don’t know anything about bank drafts. I normally collect cash and hand it over to my boss. I also don’t not know any person bearing Obasi John or Ogbonna J. at government house,” he said.
Attempts by Jacobs to further extract the witness’ evidence on the three applications was however opposed to by the defence lawyers.
In his submissions, Kalu’s lawyer, Chief Awa Kalu (SAN), said Jacobs’ action was against the spirit of the Evidence Act.

He further argued that the witness cannot be asked to compare the signatures of persons he claimed he did not know.
Lawyer to the 3rd defendant (Slok Nigeria Ltd), K. C. Nwofo (SAN), also argued that it is only an expert that can be asked questions on the contentious issue.

However, in his response, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), insisted that the witness is highly qualified to give evidence on the statement he allegedly wrote and signed.

According to him, evidence with regards to handwriting is not an exclusive preserve of an expert.
“The law permits the court to take evidence from the person whose handwriting was said to have been forged or the person who is familiar with the handwriting,” he said.

After listening to the arguments of parties in the matter, Justice Idris adjourned till today for ruling.