The Federal High Court has prohibited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from retrying former Abia State governor, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu.
Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order while delivering judgment in an application filed by the former governor seeking an order of court prohibiting the EFCC from retrying him on a charge for which he had already been tried and convicted.
The judge said: “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.”
The court had in February granted Kalu leave to challenge the legality of the retrial.
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Kalu, a senator representing Abia North, is seeking an order of the court prohibiting the EFCC from retrying him on the same alleged N7.1 billion money laundering charge against him.
He contended that having been tried once by EFCC, convicted and sentenced in the same charge, FHC/ABJ/CR/56/ 2007, it would amount to double jeopardy for him to be subjected to a fresh trial on the same charge.
The former governor had also applied for an order prohibiting the EFCC from retrying, harassing and intimidating him with respect to the said charge or any other charge based on the same facts as he needs not suffer double jeopardy.
Kalu was earlier found guilty and handed a 12-year jail term by the Lagos division of the court.
The trial court convicted the former governor alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and a former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu, for alleged N7.1 billion fraud from the state treasury.
However, the Supreme Court, in its judgment on May 8, quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial of the defendants by the EFCC.
In a unanimous decision by a seven-member panel of Justices, the Supreme Court nullified the entire proceedings that led to Kalu’s conviction, stressing that the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, was already elevated to the Court of Appeal, as at the time he sat and delivered a judgement against the defendants.
It noted that Justice Idris was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at December 5, 2019, the day the former governor and his co-defendants were found guilty of the money laundering charge against them.
According to the Supreme Court, Justice Idris, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal before then, lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge.