By Innocent Anaba
Lagos—A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday adjourned further hearing in the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and two others over alleged fraud owing to the failure of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to produce its third witness.
Trial judge in the matter is Justice Mohammed Idris. At the resumed hearing in the matter, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, had sought an adjournment of the matter following the conclusion of the cross-examination of the second prosecution witness, Christiana Ohiri, by the defence.
He told the court that all his efforts to ensure that another witness was brought to court, yesterday could not sail through.
However, the defence was opposed to the request for an adjournment.
In his submission, Kalu’s lawyer, Goddy Uche, SAN, expressed his displeasure at the inability of the prosecution to produce its third witness in the matter.
“My lord, with due respect to my brother silk, I am opposed to the request for adjournment. My client flew in from the US because of this matter. In the alternative, I want to suggest that the matter be stand down for about one hour to allow the prosecution produce its witnesses,” he said.
Other defence lawyers, Solo Akuma, SAN and K. C. Nwofo, SAN, also expressed their objections to the request for adjournment.
After listening to the arguments of parties in the matter, Justice Idris adjourned further hearing in the matter till today.
Earlier at yesterday’s proceedings, the witness, Christiana Ohiri, while being re-examined by EFCC’s lawyer, emphasized that she did not personally meet all the people who carried out transactions with the 36 bank drafts issued by her bank.
She had while corroborating the evidence of the first prosecution witness, Onovah Ogonevoh, told the court that no payment was made to Uzor Kalu, from Government House account between 2002 and 2005.
While being cross-examined by Kalu’s lawyer, Uche, over a document containing information about 36 bank drafts issued by the Umuahia Branch of the bank, Christiana said no draft was either paid by Dr. Kalu or issued in his name.
Responding to a question put to her, the witness said, “the first defendant (Dr. Kalu) did not personally come to me to purchase any draft and his name was not included on any of the drafts.
“The first defendant’s name or photograph also does not feature in the mandate cards of the signatories to the Government House Account.”