EFCC set for fresh, immediate retrial of Orji Uzor Kalu
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has claimed to be prepared for a fresh and immediate retrial of the case because of its pieces of evidence against former Abia governor Kalu and others.
The commission said Friday’s judgment of the Supreme Court nullifying the conviction of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu and two others as unfortunate.
The Supreme Court today quashed the 12-year jail term slammed on the former governor.
In a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie, the Apex Court held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.
It held that trial Justice Mohammed Idris was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as of the time he sat and delivered the judgement that convicted the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1billion from Abia State treasury.
According to the Supreme Court, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal before then, Justice Idris lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court judge.
The Apex Court held that the Fiat issued to the judge by the Court of Appeal President pursuant to Section 396 (7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) was unconstitutional.
The court then vacated the judgment convicting the former governor and the others and ordered their fresh trial.
Reacting to this, the EFCC in a statement made available to Tribune Online by its Head, Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, stated that the judgment was a technical ambush against the trial of the former governor.
It, however, expressed its preparedness for a fresh and immediate trial of the case, saying that, “its pieces of evidence against Kalu and others are overwhelming.”
The Commission further stated that the corruption charges against Kalu still subsisted because the Supreme Court did not acquit him of them.
“The attention of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been drawn to the judgment of the Supreme Court nullifying the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Jones Udeogu, a former Director of Finance and Account of Abia State Government and ordering their fresh trial at the lower court.
“The apex court based its verdict on the grounds that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted Kalu and others, had been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the judgment and returned to the lower court to deliver the judgment which is considered as illegal.
“The EFCC considers the judgment of the apex court as quite unfortunate. It is a technical ambush against the trial of the former governor.
“The corruption charges against Kalu still subsist because the Supreme Court did not acquit him of them.
“The entire prosecutorial machinery of the EFCC would be launched in a fresh trial where justice is bound to be served in due course,” the EFCC stated.