A legal practitioner, Kingsley Ekwem, on Tuesday declined to testify as a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and two others facing trial for alleged N2.9bn fraud.
Ekwem, who was subpoenaed by the court to tender some documents that were said to have emanated from his chambers and testify on same, rather, urged Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos to set aside the summons served on him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to testify in the matter.
Arguing a motion he filed to challenge the court’s summons, the lawyer said he would not be able to testify in the matter because of the existing relationship between his chambers and the third defendant in the case (Slok Nigeria Limited).
The lawyer cited Section 192 (1) of the Evidence Act 2011 as well as Rule 19 (1) of the Rules of Professional Conducts for Legal Practitioners 2007 to buttress his points.
Responding, the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said the motion was based on mere apprehension that was not founded in law.
He argued that the lawyer could only raise any objection he had when he was to be put on oath while inside the witness box.
In his submissions on the issue, Kalu’s lawyer, Chief Awa Kalu (SAN), urged the court to consider Sections 185 and 192 (1) of the Evidence Act in granting the motion.
He argued that the EFCC could not put the lawyer in the witness box because the prosecution witness through which the document was tendered as an exhibit by the commission had informed the court that it was obtained through a search warrant.
Other defence lawyers also aligned themselves with the submissions of Chief Awa Kalu (SAN).
In particular, Slok’s lawyer, K. C. Nwofo (SAN), while urging the court to grant the motion said, “Slok has not consented to the lawyer being called to testify in the matter.”