The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that it could no longer locate the star witness in the ongoing corruption trial of a former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu.
The anti-graft commission, EFCC, is prosecuting the former governor and two others, Udeh Jones and Slok Nigeria Limited, over an alleged N2.9 billion fraud.
While being examined by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), an operative of the EFCC, Ovie Tobore Akpoyibo, told the court all efforts to locate the witness had been futile.
Akpoyibo, who testified as the 13th prosecution witness, said the missing star witness, Michael Akpan Udoh, was a cashier at the Abia State Government House. Akpoyibo said:
“In respect of M. A. Udoh, on January 15, 2018, I was instructed to go to Umuahia to locate his residence and if possible arrest him. When I got to Umuahia, I linked up with the State Attorney-General and he called the Accountant-General who took me to Udoh’s apartment. “Operatives gained access into the property the next day. At the place, we met Udoh’s wife and daughter and we were told that the man had travelled to Calabar. I later asked for his phone number, but I could not connect with him. I then left my phone number with the wife so that he can call me anytime he is around.”
The witness further revealed that efforts to also serve a court summons on Udoh for him to appear as a witness in the case has also yielded no positive result. During the trial, the EFCC filed additional proof-of-evidence and an amended charge in the case.
Lawyers to the accused persons however expressed displeasure over the development and accused the prosecution of prolonging the trial. Kalu’s lawyer, Chief Charles Enwelunta, said the prolonged trial is negatively taking its toll on his client and others.
He said: “The defendants who are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved are already having the feeling that they are being punished. Their businesses have suffered and they cannot plan again for anything because of this case. Even, we as counsels cannot plan our time”.