***Orders High Court To Give Eccelarated Trial Of Former Abia Gov –
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State to go and face trial on a 107-count corruption charges brought against by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The apex court ordered that Kalu has case to answer on the alleged money laundering and illegal diversion of over N5.6billion public funds charges against him, while he served as Governor of the South eastern state, between 1999 and 2007.
The business mogul, who was arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja on July 27, 2007 by the EFCC, used numerous means to frustrate every attempt to prosecute him.
In a bid to fight justice, the former governor went to court, challenging the competence of the charge against him, as well as the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear and determine his case.
Following his lost bid to suppress the charge against him, Kalu took the case to an appeal court in Abuja, which upheld the competence of the charge against him, ruling that the high court was constitutionally authorised to exercise jurisdiction on the trial.
If that was not enough, Kalu dragged the case to the Supreme Court, demanding the apex court set-aside the rulings made by the other courts.
Via his lawyer Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, Kalu, who is the chairman of two major Nigerian newspapers, pleaded with a five-man panel of judges headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed to dismiss the charge against him.
He argued that the EFCC were unsuccessful in their bid to link him with the charges levelled against him, insisting that the proof of evidence issued by the anti-graft agency was not substantial enough to indict him.
However, the apex court in unanimous judgment on Friday, upheld the Court of Appeal verdict, ordering the former governor to face his trial before the high court.
Justice Suleiman Galadima who delivered the lead verdict, said the Supreme Court was contented with the allegations levelled against Kalu by the EFCC, adding that the hearing should be accelerated.
The Apex court also demanded the case begin afresh, ordering the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to re-assign the case to another Judge.