About eight years after the case was stalled, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recommenced the trial of ex-Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others yesterday.
Kalu, his ex-aide, Jones Udeogo, and the former governor’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited were re-arraigned yesterday on a 34-count charge at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
Before their arraignment, Kalu and others argued against yesterday’s proceedings, and urged the court to await the pending appeal by Slok at the Supreme Court.
Justice Anwuri Chikere rejected the defendants’ objection, and ordered that the charge be read to them.
Kalu and others were, in the amended charge, accused of diverting about N3.2 billion from Abia State’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure.
They pleaded not guilty, following which the court admitted them to bail on terms attached to the bail granted them on April 30, 2008 after they were earlier arraigned before Justice Adamu Bello (now retired).
The court adjourned to December 6 for trial.
Kalu and others were initially arraigned in 2007 before Justice Bello (then of the Federal High Court, Abuja).
Shortly after Kalu and Udeogo pleaded to the charge, his lawyer, Awa Kalu (SAN), urged the court to allow them remain on their earlier bail.
The counsel handed the court a copy of the enrolled orders of 2008 by Justice Bello, granting bail to Kalu and Udeogo.
Udeogo’s lawyer Solomon Akuma (SAN) aligned with Kalu’s lawyer, urging the court to adopt Justice Bello’s position.
Prosecution lawyer Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) did not object, saying he was interested in the trial.