N3.2bn fraud: Ex-Abia gov. Orji Kalu asks court to reject EFCC document

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The embattled former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, on Tuesday asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to reject a document sought to be tendered as an exhibit by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) to prove its case against him.

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At yesterday’s proceedings, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) had during examination-in-chief of the first prosecution witness, Onovah Ogonevoh, sought to tender a document from Manny Bank Plc (now defunct) in response to an enquiry from the commission in respect of 27 bank drafts issued by the Umuahia branch of the bank

The bank had in its response dated October 13, 2006, to the EFCC’s request attached the customer’s name, the account number and copies of the bank drafts to a cover letter.

The defence later raised objections to the admissibility of the documents attached to the cover letter.

In his objections to the admissibility of the document, Kalu’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozhekome (SAN) said its certification by the EFCC is erroneous.

“It is legally untenable for the commission to certify a document which originally was in possession of the bank. The bank is in a better position to certify the document”, he said.

Ozhekome also noted that since the witness was not the maker of the documents, it will be difficult for the defence to cross-examine him on it.

Besides, he said it is too late for the court to ask the prosecution to regularise the certification process of the documents because the defence had already raised its objections.

He urged the court to reject the documents attached to the cover letter.

Also speaking in the same vein, lawyer to the 2nd defendant, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN) urged the court to reject the documents because it was not properly certified.

Lawyer to the 3rd accused person, K. C. Nwofo (SAN) also raised objections to the admissibility of the documents on the ground that the witness was not the maker.

“EFCC certifying the documents is an anomaly because the documents were originally not in the commission’s custody”, he said.

In his reply, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs(SAN) said once there is no objection to the cover letter, the entire document should be taken by the court as admitted.

He said the commission had only certified the letter sent to it by the bank which is now in its possession, and that the certification is in substantial compliance with Section 104 of the Evidence Act.

Ruling on the contentious issue has been fixed for today.

Earlier during yesterday’s proceedings, the court had overruled the objections raised by the defence regarding the appropriateness of the witness to testify in the matter on the ground that the prosecution had not provided his statement.

Justice Mohammed Idris of Justice in his ruling, agreed with the prosecution that the witness having been under subpoena should be allowed to testify in the matter irrespective of whether his statement is available or not.

The court, however, directed the prosecution to ensure that it provided the defence with the statements of all other witnesses in the matter that are not under subpoena.

Dr. Kalu, Udeh Jones Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Limited were on October 31, 2016, arraigned before the court by the anti-graft agency on a 34-count charge of alleged N3.2billion fraud.

 

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