Alleged money laundering: Court slates April 20 to hear Ex-Gov Kalu’s suit challenging retrial
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, adjourned till April 20, 2021, for a hearing in the suit by former Abia State Governor and Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, seeking to stop his retrial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on same alleged money laundering charges.
The adjournment was because the EFCC, listed as the first defendant in the suit was not properly served with the originating summons filed by the former governor.
When the matter was called, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) who announced his appearance for EFCC on protest, told the court that the originating summons was served on his Chambers instead of the EFCC.
He told Justice Ekwo that he was yet to be briefed by the EFCC as its counsel and it would amount to professional misconduct to accept processes on the matter.
Responding, Prof Awa Kalu (SAN) representing Senator Kalu said he has no problem serving the EFCC with the originating summons and the duo of Chief Chris Uche (SAN) and George Ukeagbu who appeared for third and second defendants said they were properly served.
Justice Ekwo who observed that both the first and third defendants were yet to file their reply briefs in the suit, adjourned the case to April 20 for hearing and directed the applicant to serve the EFCC within seven days.
It would be recalled that the court had, on February 8, 2021, granted leave to Senator Kalu to challenge his retrial by the EFCC on the same charges upon which he was sentenced and convicted.
Justice Ekwo thereafter, ordered that the planned re-arraignment of the former governor in the alleged N7.1 billion money laundering charges be put on hold until the resolution of the legal questions raised against his retrial.
Kalu, in a motion exparte argued by his counsel, Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), asked for an order of the Court prohibiting the EFCC from retrying him on the same alleged money laundering charges against him.
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He contended that having been tried, convicted and sentenced on the same charges FHC/ABJ/CR/56/ 2007 by Justice M.B. Idris of the Lagos Division of the court, it will amount to double jeopardy if he is subjected to a fresh trial on the same charge.
Justice Ekwo in his ruling, granted leave to Kalu to seek an order prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the EFCC (her agent), her officers, servants, others, agents, privies and any other person or bodies driving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying him on charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & 2 ors or any other charge based on the same facts de novo, there being no extant judgment and ruling of a competent court in Nigeria mandating same.
An order prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the EFCC (her agent), her officers, servants, others, agents, privies and any other person or bodies driving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying, harassing and intimidating him with respect to the charge as concerns charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & 2 ors or any other charge based on same facts as he need not suffer double jeopardy.