Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday, revoked the bail of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, following his failure to appear in court for trial as scheduled.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Kalu together with his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo and a company, Slok Nigeria Ltd on charges of N7.2billion fraud.
EFCC had on October 31, 2016, preferred a 34-count charge bordering on N3.2 billion fraud against the accused.
The charges were, however, subsequently amended to 39 counts.
They had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bails.
At the last adjourned date on November 5, Kalu was also absent for his trial and the defence counsel had informed the court that he was away for medical treatment in Germany.
Justice Idris, who is sitting on a fiat to conclude the trial, had then adjourned the case until Monday for continuation of trial and ordered that Kalu returns to the country within seven days from November 5 to stand trial.
The court had said: “In the light of the entirety of this case, and in the interest of justice, I am prepared to grant the first defendant a final adjournment in respect of this matter.”
On Monday, Idris revoked Kalu’s bail following his failure to appear in court for trial as scheduled.
The judge ordered that upon the return of Kalu from his alleged medical trip, he must submit himself to the EFCC, failing which an order will be made for his arrest.
“I am constrained to revoke the bail granted to the first defendant; the first defendant is, however, permitted to continue with his medical treatment abroad, unharrased by law enforcement agencies.
“Upon his return to the country, he must at the point of entry, surrender his international passport and other relevant travelling document to the EFCC; he shall submit himself to the EFCC within 24 hours of his return, failing which he shall be rearrested and detained by the EFCC.
“Let me state that there is no doubt that the first defendant is entitled to and has a right to life, he has a right to seek medical treatment within and outside the shores of Nigeria; this right is further guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and People’s Right.
“In enjoying this right, the first defendant has a duty to follow due process of law; in this case, the first defendant acted outside the purview of the law, and he is expected to be dealt with according to the law.
“This court is a court of equity, but he who seeks equity must do equity; I find no reason why I should depart from the law, this court is an equal dispenser of justice,” the court held.
The court adjourned the case until December 3.
In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offences between August 2001 and October 2005.
Kalu was alleged to have utilised his company to retain in the account of a First Inland bank, now FCMB, the sum of N200 million.
The sum is alleged to have formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State Government.
In one of the counts, his company (Slok Nig Ltd) and one Emeka Abone, who is said to be at large, were also alleged to have retained in the company’s account the sum of N200 million, on behalf of the first accused.
In counts one to 10, the accused were alleged to have retained about N2.5 billion in different accounts, which funds were said to belong to the Abia State Government.
Cumulatively, in all the counts, the accused were alleged to have diverted over N7.2 billion from the Abia State government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as governor.
The offences were said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 15(6), 16, and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005.
It also contravened the provisions of the Money Laundering Act of 1995 as amended by the Amendment Act No. 9 of 2002 and Section 477 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation, 1990.
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