Former governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Kalu, has said his absence in court at last sitting was on health grounds and not disrespect of the law.
In a statement from Germany, where he travelled for medical attention, in reaction to an application made by the prosecuting counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, asking the court to revoke his bail, Kalu said such suggestion was uncalled for since he had diligently attended court sittings from inception of his case.
Kalu’s counsel, Mr. Goddy Uche, SAN, had, during resumed sitting, notified the court of his client’s inability to attend the session via a letter from Helios Klinik, Wiesbaden, Germany and filed at the court.
EFCC counsel, Jacob, had asked the court to revoke Kalu’s bail, which was rejected by Justice Mohammed Idris.
While expressing satisfaction over the court’s rejection of Jacob’s application, Kalu said insinuation that he absconded was unfair and disappointing.
He said: “I was very disappointed when I heard the statement credited to Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).
“It is on record that since the commencement of this case in 2007, this is the first time I have never been present from court, except the last sitting, which was beyond me.
“I have had to reschedule my surgery many times so as to be present in court at all times.
“My surgery was originally scheduled for August 1 but due to my appearance in court on July 31, I could not meet up with my surgical appointment.
“All my efforts to get a new date in August proved abortive as my doctor was on his annual family vacation and the earliest date granted was September 10.
“To catch up with the new appointment, I left Nigeria on August 31 to visit and inform my mother in the US about the surgery before departing for Germany.
“On September, ahead of my operation booked for 2.15pm, as I entered the hospital at 10.00am for preparations before moving into the theatre room, about mid-day, one of my aides Dr. Frank Osita-Chuks, rushed into the consulting room, where I was placed on drip , that my lawyer, Mr. Goddy Uche (SAN), asked me to call him on phone urgently.
“Following the approval of the nurse on duty, I immediately put a call through to my counsel, who informed me that I must be present in the next court sitting slated for September 20 and 21.
“After the telephone conversation with my lawyer, I was unhappy when he told me about what transpired in the court.
“Thereafter, I had to ask for my doctor’s advice, who did not hide his displeasure over incessant cancellations of the long overdue surgery. He bluntly told me that once the operation was conducted, healing will not take less than 5 weeks and as such if I want to make the next court sitting, I had better, again, reschedule the surgical operation for September 24, based on his schedule.”
Kalu, further said, “as a respecter of the judiciary and by extension the rule of law, it is unfair and wicked for Mr. Rotimi Jacobs to have said that I absconded from facing trial.
“The EFCC counsel is fond of using unprintable and unacceptable languages against my person.
“Why on earth will Mr. Jacobs say I absconded? He is the same person that delayed the case for this long. All along, he kept on asking for adjournments.
“I have never and will never disobey court orders.
“I have always maintained my position openly about the imperative of the rule of law.
“Just recently, during an interview on a TV programme, which was widely reported, I advised the federal government of Nigeria to respect court orders on the release of former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki and others.
“I personally frown at abuse of the law and as such, I will not do anything at variance with my personal conviction.
“During my stint as Abia State Governor, people took the state government to court and I made sure we obeyed the decisions of the court.
“As a public figure, I will never lie about my whereabouts for it is easy to know my location”.
The former governor, who is billed to arrive the country on September 15, urged the EFCC counsel to allow the law take its course as against spreading falsehood.