The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has lauded the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on the trial of former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu over the alleged N7.6bn for fraud.

In a release issued by its Media and Publications Officer, on behalf of the Executive Chairman of the Centre, Debo Adeniran stated, “the fresh plot by the former Governor of Abia State to reenact his fake foreign medical trip in a renewed bid to stall his resume trial. It was said that the Defence against him would start on Monday before a federal high court sitting in Lagos. Also, it was gathered that the former governor and his cohort are working towards another fake medical trip in order to frustrate his resumed hearing for the second time.

However, we recalled that the former Governor had rather opened his Defence in the alleged N7.6bn fraud, filed a no-case submission, which was afterwards dismissed by the trial court on July 31, 2018. On April 24, 2019, the Appellate court in a lead judgment by Justice M.L  Garba,  upheld the decision of the lower court. Also, the Court of Appeal dismissed appeals filed by Kalu’s co-defendants challenging the jurisdiction of the court to further hear the case, following the elevation of Justice Mohammed Idris to the court of Appeal. Following different corruption cases in the country, corruption has been the major setback of our system, ranging from money laundering, fraudulent act, bribery, and internet fraudster etc., unless emphasis could be shifted from severity of punishment to certainty of detention in criminal offences, the fight against corruption would remain a hallucination.

 The CACOL boss added, “We urge the court to expedite action on the former governor in order to restore public confidence in the anti-corruption crusade of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government. Also, probing all financial dealings of these ex-governors with a view to bringing culprits to book and recovering much of the stolen wealth, would go a long way in ameliorating the social frustration and economic downturn in the polity.

Putting it succinctly, the provisions on immunity for a serving governor, their deputy and even the office of the President and his deputy, was not to make those principal office holders perpetually immune from giving account of their stewardship as it is only meant to discourage frivolous allegations against them, that could tend to be more disruptive than necessary. If a prima facie case of corruption could be unearthed and established against any governor or his deputy even whilst in office, such could be advanced or made available to their respective legislative house, saddled with the power and responsibility to properly peruse and analyze for an impeachment procedure to commence.

In the alternative, the outcome of such findings and investigation should be used against such despoiling officeholders the very moment they vacate office and automatically lose their ascribed immunity.

 This would not only allow the incumbent governors to get down to serious issues of governance and delivering on their campaign promises to their people; it would also make available to them such expropriated scarce resources and serve as a deterrent to future looting of the commonwealth.”