By Victor Ernest
The Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed Tuesday for ruling on the provision of a witness statement, in the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor kalu, who is standing trial for money laundering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on Oct. 31, 2016, preferred a 34-count charge bordering on N3.2 billion fraud against Kalu and his former Commissioner for Finance, Jones Udogu.
The accused had however pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
According to the Nations, when the case was mentioned on Monday, counsel for the prosecution, called its first witness, Onovah Ovenevoh, into the witness-box.
Ovenevoh was about to begin his testimony when an objection was raised by Udogu’s counsel, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN).
Akuma drew the court’s attention to the fact that the Ovenevoh’s statement was not part of the proof of evidence given to him by the prosecution.
Call for fair trial
According to him, service of witness statement on the defence is a constitutional right and a facility that should be provided for an accused person as enshrined in Section 36(6) (b) of the Constitution.
Kalu’s Counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), also noted that it was important for the prosecution to make the statement of the witness available not only to the defence but also to the court.
”We ought to know what the witness is going to tell the court and not to be caught by surprise, he said.
He therefore cited Section 36(1)of the Constitution which emphasised the need for an accused person to be given fair hearing and for us to have fair hearing, urging the court to ensure fair trial of the accused.