N7.1billion Fraud: Delay in Chief Judge’s response stalls retrial of Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu

THE Counsel to the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said that the delay in getting a response from the Chief Judge has stalled the retrial of the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu over alleged 7.1 billion naira.

Chile Okoroma, counsel to the EFCC told the court on Tuesday that a response is being awaited on a pending letter before the Chief Judge, John Terhemba Tsoho demanding over the transfer of the case to Lagos State.

According to Okoroma, the Chief Judge is yet to respond to the letter written following the ruling of the Supreme Court in May 2020 that the prosecution of the former Abia state governor, Kalu be started afresh.

Stating reasons why the case should be transferred, Okoroma noted that none of the allegations levied against the defendant was committed within the jurisdiction of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Okoroma further informed the court that the prosecution has filed an application for the adjournment of the case till a response is gotten from the Chief Judge.

Responding to Okoroma, Inyang Ekwo, the sitting judge on the case ruled that even without the prosecution’s application, the case cannot go on.

However, Ekwo said the case cannot be adjourned without a specific date for a report. Ekwo eventually adjourned the case till June 7, 2020.






     

     

    On December 5th, 2019, Kalu, his company Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeh Udeogu, a former Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House were convicted of 39 count charges bordering on conspiring and diverting over N7 billion from the state’s coffers.

    Muhammad Idris, a sitting judge of the Federal High Court, sentenced Kalu to 12 years’ imprisonment and ordered the winding up of his company, Slok Nigeria Limited.

    However, following an appeal to the Supreme Court upturned the High court’s judgement on grounds that Idris who delivered the previous judgement had already been elevated to the Court of Appeal, and as such, had no power to sit as a High Court Judge.

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

    Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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