Court Frowns at Kalu’s Absence in Court for Trial
Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday expressed his displeasure over the absence of former Abia State Governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
Kalu is standing trial for an alleged fraud charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) during his tenure as governor of Abia State from 1999 to 2007.
When the case came up yesterday, the EFCC asked the court to revoke the bail granted the former governor for failing to appear in court.
EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), urged the judge to revoke the bail granted Kalu while responding to a request by his lawyer, Chief Gordy Uche (SAN), for an adjournment of the case against his client due to his absence.
Explaining the reason behind the absence of Kalu in court, Uche told the judge that he had travelled out of the country for a surgical operation in Germany.
He said: “My lord, at the last hearing of this matter on July 31, 2018, we did inform the court that the first defendant (Kalu) had an appointment for a surgical operation which was scheduled for August 2, 2018, in Germany.
“Incidentally, the first defendant was unable to get a flight out to meet up with the appointment. The Consultant Surgeon, Dr. Mario, thereafter went for his summer vacation.
“However, from the communications we have, the only available date for the surgery is today. We have already made out a letter attached to which are the correspondences fixing the appointment since last week Friday.
“It is very unfortunate that we found ourselves in this circumstance, and we shall be applying for an adjournment for the first time in this case. This is the first time the first defendant will be absent in court. We passionately plead for a short adjournment to enable him take this surgery, recover and stand his trial.”
Other defence lawyers, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN) and Mr. K. C. Nwofor (SAN), were not opposed to the request for adjournment.
However, in his response, EFCC’s lawyer, Jacobs, argued that the time given to Kalu by the court to travel for medical treatment had elapsed and he cannot by himself extend it.
“If he is absent in court, it is against my lord’s order. If he has travelled out of the country, he has flouted the court’s directive. I urged the court to revoke his bail for travelling out of the country without the court’s directive,” Jacobs said.
In a short ruling, the judge expressed his displeasure over the absence of the former governor. He however declined the request to revoke his bail.
Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to September 20.