Former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Kalu, has expressed his readiness to face his trial and prove his innocence on the 107-count corruption charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The Supreme Court had on Friday dismissed his appeal and ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to assign the case for expeditious trial.
But the former governor has maintained his innocence saying he was ready to go to court and face trial.
Justice Suleiman Galadima, who wrote the lead judgment that was delivered by Justice Sylvester Nwuta, held that Kalu’s appeal lacked merit.
In addition, the apex court held that the ex-parte order of the Abia State High court relied upon by Kalu in asking the to quash the charge against him cannot stand.
The charge borders on the alleged complicity of the erstwhile governor in money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds to the tune of N5.6billion. He was also alleged to have committed the fraud while in office between 1999 and 2007.
He was arraigned by the EFCC before a Federal High Court in Abuja on July 27, 2007 where he entered a plea of not guilty in all the charges.
The defendant firstly challenged the competence of the charge against him, as well as the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear and determine the case.
Meanwhile, following refusal by the trial court to quash the charge, Kalu, took the case before the Court of Appeal in Abuja and in a unanimous judgment, the court upheld the competence of the charge, adding that it was constitutionally empowered to exercise jurisdiction on the trial.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, Kalu approached the Supreme Court, begging it to set-aside the concurrent findings of the two lower courts. His lawyer, Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, pleaded that the charges against him be quashed.
He argued that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie nexus linking him to the ingredients of the offence and that the proof of evidence adduced by the anti-graft agency against him did not nail him to any crime.
Nevertheless, the apex court, in a unanimous judgment on Friday, dismissed the appeal, even as it ordered the appellant to go and face his trial before the high court.
Justice Suleiman Galadima who delivered the lead verdict, said the apex court was satisfied that the former governor has a case to answer pertaining to allegations that were levelled against him by the EFCC.
Besides, the apex court ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to re-assign the case to another Judge to enable the trial to commence de-novo (afresh). The pex court also ordered accelerated hearing of the matter.