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Alleged 2.4billion fraud: “I am ready for trial”-Orji Kalu

Alleged 2.4billion fraud: “I am ready for trial”-Orji Kalu

Former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu, yesterday said he was ready for any trial following the verdict of the Supreme Court directing his trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged N2.4billion fraud when he ran the affairs of the state between 1999 and 2007.

The apex court had dismissed his appeal for lacking in merit.

Kalu, who in the  appeal, had sought to quash the charge of money laundering brought against him by EFCC, said moment after the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday that “this is another opportunity to prove my innocence.

“I have all the records and facts of the case. I am willing to submit myself for the rule of law to take its course. That has always been my passion advocacy, right from the lower courts where the case enamnated,” he said from London.

He added: “this clarification has become imperative lest opposition forces mischievously misinterpret the ruling and mislead the public by injecting their jaundiced opinions into the routine directive as had always been with similar cases where the apex court intervened.”

He assured the EFCC of  his “continued support and profound cooperation in any further investigation into this allegation,’’  and also claimed it “is part of the price I have to pay for opposing the third-term agenda fiasco of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.”

A similar appeal by Kalu’s associate, Udeh Jones Udehogo, was similarly dismissed yesterday by the Supreme Court for the same reason.

Justice Suleiman Galadima, who wrote the lead judgments in both appeals, upheld the concurrent decisions of the Federal High Court, Abuja and Appeal Court, Abuja, in refusing the appeals.

The five-man panel of the apex court, in its unanimous judgments, directed the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to assign the cases to new judges for hearing.

On Kalu’s case, Justice Galadima, whose judgment was read by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, said: “The appellant had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja to quash the charges made against him by the EFCC.

“The Court dismissed the case. He went to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division. He lost and approached this court.

“Having considered all issues raised and arguments by parties, I come to the conclusion that I cannot, but help in dismissing this appeal for lacking in merit. It is dismissed.

“I affirm the decision of the court bellow, which rightly affirmed the decision of the Federal High Court, that it was not bound by the ex-parte order of the Abia State High Court as to vitiate the charges preferred against the appellant.

“The learned Chief Judge of the Federal High Court should assign the case to another judge for expeditious trial,” Justice Galadima said.

Other members of the panel: Justice Mahmud Mohammed (the Chief Justice of Nigeria), Bode Rhodes-Vivour, sylvester Nwgwuta and Datijo Mohammed agreed with the lead judgments in both appeals.

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