Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed December 2, 2019 as the date to deliver judgement in the alleged fraud case involving a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Kalu, a former Director of Finance in Abia State Government House, Udeh Jones Udeogu and a firm, Slok Nigeria Ltd. to the court over alleged N7.2 billion fraud.
The defendants have since denied the alleged offence.
Kalu drew the court’s attention to Pages 107 and 109 of the prosecution’s written address wherein it was stated that: “The first defendant knew that he could not face the rigour of cross-examination and that his falsehood will be exposed through the fire of cross-examination; that was why he declined to be cross-examined.”
Expressing his displeasure at the statement, Kalu urged the court to direct the prosecution’s lawyer to withdraw the paragraph failure which he will be prepared to address the court on the issue.
According to him, his client’s decision to opt for making of statement rather than being cross-examined is a statutory choice, which cannot be queried by any lawyer.
The silk added that it is only the court that could decide whether his client’s case amounts to falsehood or not.
Responding, EFCC’s lawyer, Jacobs, justified the inclusion of the paragraph in his written statement, saying he is not willing to withdraw it.
In his intervention, Justice Idris said he will address all the concerns raised by both lawyers in his judgement.
Earlier, Udeogu’s lawyer, G.E. Ukegbu, while adopting his written address, said the prosecution has failed to prove that the bank drafts under consideration in the case were paid to the 3rd defendant (Slok Nigeria Ltd).
He added that contrary to the prosecution’s position, there was no admission of any crime by his client. He urged the court to discharge and acquit the 2nd defendant of all counts against him.
Slok’s lawyer, David Ndah, also adopted his written address, which he said was dated 16th October, 2019 and filed on October 17, 2019.
After listening to the submissions of parties, Justice Idris thanked them for their cooperation and reserved judgement till a date that he said will be communicated to parties.
However, the prosecution’s lawyer pleaded with the judge to give a date for judgement, even if it is tentatively.
Consequently, Justice Idris fixed 2nd December, 2019, as the date to deliver judgement in the matter.