The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) permission to re-arraign a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, on corruption charges.
Kalu will be arraigned alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and one Jones Udeogo on May 16 over alleged diversion of N5.6bn belonging to the state.
Monday’s order followed the judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on March 18, 2016, dismissing the accused persons’ objection to the charges preferred against them and directing them to submit themselves for trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2007 initially preferred 96 counts including money laundering against Kalu, Slok and Udeogo.
Kalu and his co-defendants were accused of diverting state funds while he was governor of Abia State between 1999 and 2007.
The anti-graft agency on February 11, 2008 amended the charges and presented 112 counts against the defendants.
Kalu and his co-accused, through various interlocutory applications, frustrated moves by the EFCC to proceed with the case against them.
Their objection to the charges went up to the Supreme Court which finally dismissed it.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Oluwaleke Atolagbe, who passed a copy of the judgment of the Supreme Court validating the trial to the judge, Justice Anwuli Chikere, on Monday, said the prosecution needed time to take some steps before the re-arraignment
Atolagbe said, “This matter is slated for mention. On March 18, 2016, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeals by the defendant.
“I will urge my lord to adjourn the case to afford the prosecution some time to take some steps. We will need about two weeks. We seek an adjournment for the defendants to take their plea.”
Counsel for Kalu, Chief Awa Kalu (SAN), and the lawyer representing Udeogo and Slok Nigeria Ltd, Chief Solomon Akuma (SAN), did not oppose the request for adjournment.
The judge then fixed May 16 for their re-arraignment.