Supreme Court verdict unfortunate, we’re set for retrial of Orji Uzor Kalu, EFCC says

Supreme Court
Orji Uzor Kalu being escorted by his associates

Authorities of Nigeria’s anti-graft body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has said it is commencing an immediate fresh trial of former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State, for theft of public fund and money laundering.

The country’s Supreme Court had on Friday set aside the earlier condition and 12-year jail term of Kalu for allegedly stealing about N7.1 billion from Abia State treasury, as the stage governor between 1999 and 2007.

The seven-member panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Amina Augie in its ruling, held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it sentenced Kalu.

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The Supreme Court held that the trial Justice Mohammed Liman, was no longer a judge of the court as he had been elevated to the Court of Appeal at the time of the judgement and thus lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court judge.

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The apex court, consequently, ordered a fresh trial of Kalu and the other defendants.

However, the EFCC reacting to the verdict in a statement on Friday, described the order granted as “quite unfortunate., ” while it would launch its entire prosecutorial machinery for retrial of Kalu.

Read the EFCC statement below:

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.

Full Statement shortly pls.

Dele Oyewale
Head, Media & Publicity