An Abuja Division of the Federal High court has adjourned the trial of Orji Uzor Kalu, a former Governor of Abia state to March 10, 2022.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in its motion on notice argued that the Abuja division lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter. They asked the Court to transfer the case to its Lagos division.
Kalu is being prosecuted alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu for fraud to the tune of about N7.1billion.
What happened in court
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) told the court that his motion seeking the transfer of the case has been served to all applicants.
Prince Uche (SAN) lawyer to Kalu’s Company told the court that he had a pending application before the court.
The judge gave the defendants 30 days to respond to EFCC’s application seeking transfer of the case. He then adjourned the matter till March 10.
“Parties are directed to file their reply before the date of hearing,” Justice Iyang said.
- Mr Kalu who served as Abia State Governor from May 29, 1999, to May 29 2007 was first arraigned in 2007 alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeh Udeogu, his Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House over an amended 39-count charge for conspiring and diverting the sum of N7.65bn from the coffers of the state between 1999 and 2007 during his tenure as Governor.
- He was convicted in December 2019 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The presiding judge held that the company be wound up and all assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
- After spending a few months at Kuje prison, The Supreme Court On May 8, 2020, nullified the proceedings that led to his conviction on technical grounds that the judge that convicted him was no longer a judge of the federal high court at the time he delivered the judgement.
- The judge had been elevated to the appeal court at the time he made the judgement. Hence lacked the jurisdiction to do so.
- Justice Idris Mohammed nullified the conviction by the Federal High Court, Lagos on technical grounds. The Apex Court held that the trial judge was no longer a Judge of the Federal High Court at the time he delivered the judgment, having been elevated to the Appeal Court.
- The Supreme Court ordered that the matter be reassigned to the Federal high court. Based on the ruling of the apex court, Mr Kalu was released from prison.
- Following his release, He quickly filed an application stopping his retrial by the EFCC which was granted by Justice Inyang on the basis that the apex court did not order a retrial in its ruling.