The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday re-arraigned former Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State before the Federal High Court, Lagos State.
Re-arraigned alongside Kalu on an amended charge were former Commissioner of Finance in the state, Udeh Udeogu, and Slok Nigeria Limited.
Having pleaded not guilty to the charges, the court allowed them to continue enjoying the bail conditions earlier granted them.
Their arraignment followed the decision by the trial judge, Mohammed Idris (now an Appeal Court judge), who, in a ruling, held that the prosecution could amend charges at any time.
Justice Idris made reference to Sections 216 and 217 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to hold that alteration of a charge can be allowed at any time.
The trial judge further stated that the prosecution could not be shut out from filing a second amended charge, as the defence had not shown how the amendment would be prejudicial to them.
After the defendants’ “not guilty” plea, their lawyers notified the judge of various “no case submissions” which had been served on the anti-graft agency.
However, the defence team pleaded with Justice Idris for adequate time to respond to EFCC’s written address in reply, which it said was over 100 pages.
This prompted the trial court to adjourn the matter until July 25, 2018 to entertain arguments on the ‘no case’ submissions.
According to the amended charge filed by EFCC, Kalu and other defendants allegedly committed the offence between August 2001 and September 2006.
In specific terms, the former governor was accused of using his firm, Slok Nigeria, to retain N200 million in an account domiciled in First Inland Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
Meanwhile, a Jos, Plateau State High Court has threatened to strike out the case instituted against former Governor Jonah Jang by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) if the commission continued to delay proceedings with flimsy excuses.
Justice Daniel Longji said he could strike out the case, “but the defense counsel has not made the application as he only reluctantly agreed to the adjournment.”