Appeal court rejects FG’s bid to retry Orji Kalu fraud case

THE Court of Appeal on Tuesday, March 6, rejected the Federal Government’s bid to begin a fresh prosecution of ex-Abia governor Orji Uzor Kalu.

In the judgment delivered on Wednesday, March 6, in the N7.6 billion fraud and money laundering case brought against Kalu, the court decided that no court should accept the Federal Government’s appeal because it was inconsistent and incompetent.

In the judgment delivered by the judge, Joseph Oyewole, the court said that the record of appeal was not compiled, signed, and certified by any person known to law.


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Oyewole specifically said that the name of the individual who assembled, signed, and certified the record was missing, as required by law.

Consequently, the judge struck out the appeals marked CA/ABJ/CV/797/2021 and CA/ABJ/CV/798/2021, which Federal Government filed against Kalu and his firm.

On December 5, 2019, a Federal High Court (FHC) sentenced the former governor, currently a senator representing Abia North, to twelve years in prison for allegedly stealing large sums of money from the state’s Treasury while in office.

However, the Supreme Court overturned and set aside the High Court’s judgment, citing the Judge, Mohammed Idris’s elevation to Justice of the Court of Appeal as justification.

According to the ruling of the Supreme Court, Idris cannot serve as both a Federal High Judge and a Justice of the Court of Appeal simultaneously.

The apex court then gave the FHC Chief Judge an order to transfer the matter to a different judge so it might be tried again.

It also held that the fiat issued to him (Kalu) by the Court of Appeal under section 396 (7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act was unconstitutional.

As a result, the apex court quashed the judgment that convicted Kalu and ordered a fresh trial process.

Not satisfied with the judgment, the EFCC said it would immediately commence the re-arraignment of the former governor.

In a statement by the Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, the Commission described the Apex court judgment as ‘unfortunate’ and a ‘technical ambush’ against Kalu’s trial.

It emphasized its readiness to commence a fresh and immediate retrial as the evidence against Kalu and others joined in the suit was enormous.






     

     

    But Kalu returned to the FHC and got a ruling that prohibited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from launching a new investigation into his case.

    According to Inyang Ekwo, who granted the restriction order against the EFCC, the Supreme Court’s ruling did not mention Kalu.

    “An order is hereby made prohibiting the Federal Government through the EFCC from retrying the applicant (Kalu) on charge no. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 since there was no order in the judgment of the Supreme Court for the retrial of Kalu,” Ekwo said in a suit filed by Kalu.

    According to Ekwo, the EFCC can move on with Kalu’s co-defendant, Ude Udeogu, retrial because the Supreme Court explicitly mandated that his case file be returned to the FHC.

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