LAGOS, Nigeria – Senate’s Chief Whip and former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu will on Tuesday be arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo’s Federal High Court for a ‘de novo’ trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in the last twelve years prosecuted Kalu from the Federal High Court up to the Supreme Court and as sentenced to 12 years imprisonment before his lawyers in mid 2020 secured judgement for a ‘retrial.’
Tuesday’s trial would have Senator Orjin Uzor Kalu docked before trial Justice Inyang Ekwo on money laundering related charges to the tune of N7.1 billion.
The lawmaker, who governed Abia State from 1999 to 2007 was earlier found guilty and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
The trial judge averred that Kalu laundered money through his personal company, Slok Nigeria Limited, alongside Abia State former Director of Finance, Jones Udeogu.
Having spent months in Nigeria’s Correctional Centre, Lagos, the entire Court’s proceedings were again quashed in a unanimous judgement of the Supreme Court on 8th May, 2020 on the ground of the trial judge’s lack of jurisdiction to try Kalu at the time.
The Supreme Court’s judgement maintained that Justice Mohammed Idris, was already elevated to the Court of Appeal, as at the time he sat and delivered judgement against the Defendants (Orji Uzor Kalu and others).
Kalu’s defence Counsels picked holes in the conviction of their client, stating that it wasn’t part of the Court procedure to have a trial judge already elevated to the Court of Appeal to stoop lower to the Federal High Court to sit in judgement, hence, they pleaded that the Supreme should declare Kalu’s conviction a nullify.
The Supreme Court held inter alia: “The fiat that was issued to him by the Court of Appeal President pursuant to section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, was a nullity.”
It further ordered that the charge in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CR/26/2017, which EFCC entered against Kalu and his co-defendants, should be remitted back to Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment to any other judge for the trial to commence de-novo (afresh).