There appears to be no respite for the former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, as the Federal Government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has appealed the Federal High Court judgment which prohibited the EFCC from retrying the former Governor and his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited.
The EFCC has asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja, to set aside the September 29 judgement and order a fresh trial in an alleged N7.1 billion laundering charge against Kalu and his company. The EFCC also wants the Appeal Court to order Senator Kalu and his company to submit themselves for retrial, in line with the order of the Supreme Court in its May 8, 2020 judgement, voiding the earlier trial and conviction of Kalu and 2 others, and ordering a retrial.
The requests by the federal government were contained in 2 notices of appeal filed by EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs, against the two judgements delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
What you should know
Recall that in December 2019, a Federal High Court in Lagos sentenced Orji Uzor Kalu to 12 years imprisonment for N7.1 billion fraud.
However, in May 2020, the Supreme Court voided the judgement that convicted and sentenced Uzor-Kalu citing that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and a former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.
It held that trial Justice Mohammed Liman was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at the time he sat and delivered the judgement that convicted the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1 billion from Abia state treasury.
Also, earlier in September, a Federal High Court in Abuja barred the Federal Government from retrying the former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor-Kalu, on the N7.1 billion money laundering charge.
In a judgement delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, the court held that the Supreme Court did not in the verdict it gave on May 8, 2020, order the retrial of either Kalu or his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited.
Justice Ekwo held that the Supreme Court only ordered the retrial of former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu, who was the appellant before it.
In reaction, the EFCC, who said they will appeal this judgement, said the judge erred in his ruling, citing that Section 36(9) of the 1999 Constitution is applicable only where the previous judgment was by a court of competent jurisdiction.