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Alleged N5.6b fraud: Court declines to go ahead with Orji Kalu's trial

By The Rainbow
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The arraignment of former Governor of Abia State Orji Uzo Kalu by the Economic and Financial crimes Commission suffered a set back on Monday as the judge declined to go ahead with the case, on the reason that aspect of the case before the Supreme Court.

trial of a former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kanu, on charges bordering on corruption at the Federal High Court stalled on Monday.

Justice Anuli Chickere of the Federal High Court before the case was charged said  she could not go on with the case when an aspect of the matter was still pending at the Supreme Court.

One of the parties charged in the case, Slok Airlines, which also belongs to Mr Kalu, has an appeal pending at the apex court.

Another reason cited by the judge is  that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had just served the former governor an amended charge to replace the 107-count charge brought against him in 2007.

The Supreme Court on March 18 gave EFCC a 'go-ahead' to prosecute the former Governor of Abia State.

The charge predicated on alleged complicity of the former Governor in money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds of about 5.6 billion Naira.

Mr Kalu was alleged to have perpetuated the fraud between 1999 and 2007 while he was the Governor of Abia State.

He had challenged the competence of the charge against him, as well as the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear and determine the case.

At the commencement of hearing today, May 16, the defense counsel, Solomon Akoma told the court that there is an appeal before the Supreme Court. Akoma said the Supreme Court is yet to fix a date for hearing the appeal. But the prosecuting counsel said it was an attempt by the defense to stall trial. Following the submissions and objection, the judge over the matter, Anuli Chikere said the matter cannot go ahead with the appeal.

His trial is coming more than eight years after he was first arraigned for misappropriation of state's funds.