Barely three hours after Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia state secured his freedom through the Supreme Court on Friday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked the former governor not to celebrate yet, as the commission is set for a fresh and immediate retrial “with overwhelming evidences”.
This was contained in a press statement by Dele Oyewale, Head, Media & Publicity for the EFCC.
According to the statement obtained by THE DAILY VENDOR, the commission described the apex court’s judgment as quite unfortunate, and a technical ambush.
The statement reads in part:
“The attention of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been drawn to the judgment of the Supreme Court nullifying the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Jones Udeogu, a former Director of Finance and Account of Abia State Government and ordering their fresh trial at the lower court.
“The apex court based its verdict on the grounds that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted Kalu and others had been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the judgment and returned to the lower court to deliver the judgment which it considered as illegal.
“The EFCC considers the judgment of the apex court as quite unfortunate. It is a technical ambush against the trial of the former governor. The Commission is prepared for a fresh and immediate trial of the case because its evidences against Kalu and others are overwhelming. The corruption charges against Kalu still subsist because the Supreme Court did not acquit him of them. The entire prosecutorial machinery of the EFCC would be launched in a fresh trial where justice is bound to be served in due course,” EFCC said.
THE DAILY VENDOR reports that Orji Uzor Kalu was convicted on Thursday, December 5, 2019 by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison for allegedly stealing N7.65 billion from the Abia State government treasury when he served as governor of the state.
But the apex court in a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices, Friday, held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted the former governor and his codefendants.
The apex court said Justice Mohammed Idris (the judge who sentenced Kalu), having been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the time, lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge.
The apex court then vacated the judgment, but ordered a fresh trial of the defendants.