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Kalu’s N7.1b ‘fraud’ trial: Court blasts EFCC lawyer, may disqualify SAN in seven days

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The Federal High Court Abuja on Friday issued a seven-day ultimatum to a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Rotimi Jacobs, to show cause why he should not be disqualified from further prosecuting former Abia governor,  Orji Uzor Kalu.

Kalu, who is serving as a senator, is standing trial on allegations of mismanaging funds belonging to Abia government to the tune of N7.1 billion during his tenure as governor from 1999 to 2007.

He was tried alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia Government House during  Kalu’s tenure

At Friday’s sitting, the court ordered Jacobs, counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to file a motion on notice within seven days to show cause why he should be allowed to continue to prosecute Kalu.

The judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, was delivering a ruling on a motion filed by the senior lawyer’s chambers seeking a transfer of Kalu’s trial to the Lagos State division of the court.

Justice Ekwo held that Jacobs and his team had engaged in gross abuse of court process in the way and manner they were prosecuting the case.

The judge ruled that the motion on notice would be adopted on October 31 during which the court would determine the fate of the senior lawyer, one way or the other.

Meanwhile, the judge dismissed the request to transfer the trial to Lagos.

He said his refusal was on the grounds that only the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho could take such a decision as provided by Section 98 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

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“There is no doubt that the provision of Section 98(1) of the ACJA, 2015 gives the Chief Judge discretion on the transfer of criminal cases. I will not venture into how discretion is to be exercised in our jurisprudence as that has been adequately propounded in the respective written addresses in this case.”

He subsequently adjourned the matter until Oct. 31 for Jacobs to show cause.

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