EFCC claims Orji Kalu jumped bail as he did not apply for permission to travel abroad for treatment

FORMER Abia State governor Dr Orji Kalu has been accused of jumping bail and running off to Germany by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after it emerged that he left the country without permission.


Dr Kalu is currently facing corruption charges and was due in court yesterday as his N7.65bn fraud trial continues. However, the former governor was not present in court as he is currently in Germany where he is said to have undergone surgery and is recovering from an undisclosed ailment.


Yesterday, Dr Kalu’s lawyer, Professor Awa Kalu told Justice Mohammed Idris at the Federal High Court in Lagos that his client was away in Germany for a surgical operation. He noted that the ex-governor had been advised by his doctors to remain in Germany for some time to recuperate.


Consequently, he called for adjournment of the case, stating that the EFCC prosecutor Rotimi Jacobs was aware of the development. However, Mr Jacobs expressed surprise at Dr Kalu’s absence, denying any prior information of when the former governor obtained the court’s permission to travel out of the country.


Describing the ex-governor’s absence from court as an attempt to frustrate the case, Mr Jacob urged Justice Idris to interpret Dr Kalu’s absence to mean that he had jumped bail. Mr Jacob said that the prosecution was not aware of the fact that Dr Kalu wanted to travel and only got to know that he went abroad for medical treatment through a statement by his media aide.


Mr Jacob added: “Things must be done in accordance with the law. In my own view, what happened is that the first defendant has jumped bail and this is an attempt to further frustrate this trial because no application was made to the court to travel. I urge Your Lordship to treat the absence of the 1st defendant that he has jumped bail.”


In his ruling, Justice Idris said that the court received an email confirming Dr Kalu’s treatment arrangement but noted that the defence counsel failed to attach any medical report to guide the court on post-surgery treatment.  In the interest of justice, Justice Idris adjourned the case for the last time, stressing that Dr Kalu must return from Germany within seven days and appear before the court.


Justice Idris ruled: “I have always stated that every citizen of this country is entitled to and has the right to seek medical treatment abroad. This right is guaranteed by the constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


“However, this right has exceptions, therefore, in exercising this right, due regard must be for the law and due process. Apart from the mail confirming the treatment arrangement of the first defendant, the defence counsel should have obtained a medical report on the condition of the first defendant post-surgery, which would have properly guided the court in the proceedings of today.


“In the light of the entirety of this case and in the interest of justice, I am prepared to grant to the first defendant a final adjournment in respect of this matter.


“In the light of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, I shall not adjourn for more than seven days from today. It is, therefore, hereby directed that the first defendant shall return to the country within seven days from today’s date for the hearing of this matter."


Subsequently, the matter was then adjourned until November 12 for continuation of trial. It is not yet clear if Dr Kalu's doctors would have declared medically fit enough to travel by then or if he plans to honour that date.