A federal high court in Lagos has ordered Orji Kalu, former governor of Abia state, to return to Nigeria in seven days to face trial for the N7.7 bill
A federal high court in Lagos has ordered Orji Kalu, former governor of Abia state, to return to Nigeria in seven days to face trial for the N7.7 billion fraud he allegedly committed as governor. Kalu, who is standing trial, was absent in court on Monday. On Friday, Kunle Oyewunmi, his spokesman, had said the former governor flew to Germany last Monday for a major surgery. Oyewunmi said since the ex-governor was treating an undisclosed and life-threatening ailment, he would stay in Germany for four months to recuperate.
In his ruling on Monday, Mohammed Idris, judge of the court, said Kalu’s lawyer should have obtained a medical report on his health condition which could have guided the proceedings of the court. He said though the matter was adjourned indefinitely on September 27, the prosecution served Kalu a notice of the hearing on November 2. But the trial of the former governor was stalled on Monday due to his absence in court. Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said he was not aware when Kalu got permission from the court to travel, hence it should be admitted that he jumped bail in order to frustrate the corruption trial.
Awa Kalu, lawyer of the former governor, said Kalu has been advised to stay abroad to recuperate from the major surgery he had. Ruling on the case, Idris said he would adjourn the case for the last time in the interest of justice.
“I have always stated that every citizen of this country is entitled to and has the right to seek medical treatment abroad. This right is guaranteed by the constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is an inalienable right. However, this right has exceptions; therefore, in exercising this right due regard must be had for the law and due process,” the judge said
The trial has been adjourned till November 12.