Tuesday, 17 July 2018

EFCC Re-Arraigns Orji Kalu, Raises Charges To 39 Counts


A former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, was on Tuesday re-arraigned at a Federal High Court in Lagos on an amended 39-count bordering on fraud.

Mr Kalu, who is now a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency is prosecuting Mr Kalu alongside his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo, and a company, Slok Nigeria Ltd., said to be owned by Mr Kalu.

EFCC had on October 31, 2016, preferred 34-count charges, including a N3.2 billion fraud charge.

Messrs Kalu and Udeogo had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.

The EFCC closed the prosecution in May 2018, after calling 18 witnesses and tendering a plethora of evidences before the court.

When the case came up on July 16, the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs, informed court of a “second further amended charge”, urging the court to order the accused to take their pleas.

But Mr Kalu’s defence team, comprising Awa Kalu, Solo Akuma, and K. C. Nwofo, all opposed the amended charge on grounds that it was not done in accordance with the provisions of the law.

They urged the court to refuse the amended charge.

In a short ruling on Tuesday, Justice Mohammed Idris (who has now been elevated to the court of appeal), while interpreting the provisions of Sections 216 and 217 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, held that the prosecution could amend the charge.

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