Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has threatened to jail a former Abia state governor Orji Uzor Kalu, for absenting himself from the court for the continuation of his N7.65bn alleged fraud case.
Justice Idris, who made the vow on Monday, recalled that on July 31, the former governor begged for a six-week adjournment on the claim that he had a surgery appointment in Germany.
“The letter for the adjournment of the 31st of July, 2018 was written on the 27th day of July, 2018 and forwarded to this court on the 31st day of July, 2018.
“From the email correspondence of 31st July, 2018 sent at 11.29am GMT by one Ifunanya, it appears that the said German surgeon was not even available for an appointment with the 1st defendant, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, when the letter of 27th July, 2018 was written and when the application for an adjournment was made on the 31st day of July 2018.
“It appears from the said email that as at the 31st day of July, an appointment had not yet been made.
“I agree with the learned counsel for the prosecution that there is indeed no letter from the said German surgeon that the 1st defendant, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, would require any surgery whatsoever. The entire scenario appears to be ridiculous.
“The conduct of the 1st defendant, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, in the matter since the ruling of this court on the 31st day of July, 2018, wherein the court dismissed his no-case submission is highly irresponsible.
“A litigant who deliberately or carelessly disregards an order of court cannot expect the discretion of the court to be exercised in his favour. Justice, after all, is said and done, is for all the parties.
“No one, no matter how highly placed, can be above the law. Let it be said loud and clear that this court will apply the law with the full force it requires,” Justice Idris said in his ruling on Monday.
”Kalu’s lawyer, Mr Gordy Uche (SAN), had lamented that “we seem to have a little problem with the 1st defendant.”
Uche, who appealed for adjournment, said: “The medical appointment was slated for the 2nd of August, but he couldn’t get a flight to Germany. Unfortunately, the surgeon went on summer vacation, however, the appointment is slated for today (Monday).”
Reacting, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), contended that the former governor had no justification to be absent from the court.
“He (Kalu) cannot, on his own, extend the medical permission given to him by this court; a person going about everywhere obtaining chieftaincy title, doing politics in the country; this (surgical) appointment is contrary to the order of this court.
“Having jumped bail, I apply that his bail be revoked,” Jacobs said.
Justice Idris, however, adjourned the case till September 20 and 21, 2018, stressing that Kalu must make himself available.