A former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu, yesterday, hailed the verdict of the Supreme Court that gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) approval to prosecute him for alleged N2.4billion fraud when he ran the affairs of the state between 1999 and 2007.
Following the decisions of the Federal High Court and Appeal Court, both in Abuja, which refused to quashed the charges bordering on corruption and money laundering against him, the former governor had appealed to the apex court.
But the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal for lacking in merit.
Justice Suleiman Galadima, who wrote the lead judgments in both appeals, upheld the concurrent decisions of the lower courts, in refusing the appeals.
The five-man panel of the apex court, in its unanimous judgments, directed the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to assign the cases to new judges for accelerated hearing.
On Kalu’s case, Justice Galadima, whose judgment was read by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, said: “The appellant had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja to quash the charges made against him by the EFCC.
“The Court dismissed the case. He went to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division. He lost and approached this court.
“Having considered all issues raised and arguments by parties, I come to the conclusion that I cannot, but help in dismissing this appeal for lacking in merit. It is dismissed.
“I affirm the decision of the court bellow, which rightly affirmed the decision of the Federal High Court, that it was not bound by the ex-parte order of the Abia State High Court as to vitiate the charges preferred against the appellant.
“The learned Chief Judge of the Federal High Court should assign the case to another judge for expeditious trial”, Justice Galadima said.
Other members of the panel: Justice Mahmud Mohammed (the Chief Justice of Nigeria), Bode Rhodes-Vivour, sylvester Nwgwuta and Datijo Mohammed agreed with the lead judgments in both appeals.
Reacting to the Friday’s Supreme Court verdict, Kalu said yesterday that “this is another opportunity to prove my innocence”.
He maintained that all the records and facts of the case are in his possession and he is willing to submit himself for the rule of law to take its course.
“That has always been my passion advocacy, right from the lower courts where the case emanated”, he said from London.
“This clarification has become imperative lest oppositional forces mischievously misinterpret the ruling and mislead the public by injecting their jaundiced opinions into the routine directive as had always been with similar cases where the apex court intervened”, Kalu added.
He assured the EFCC of his “continued support and profound cooperation in any further investigation into this allegation”, even as he claimed it “is part of the price I have to pay for opposing the third-term agenda fiasco of former President Olusegun Obasanjo”.