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N7.1bn fraud retrial: Ex-Abia Gov, Orji Kalu knows fate Sept 20

A former Abia State Governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, will on Monday, September 20, 2021, know his fate in his fresh suit seeking to stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from subjecting him to retrial in an alleged N7.1bn fraud charges brought against him.

Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, is expected to deliver a make or mar judgment in the suit.

The Judge had on July 2 fixed the date after Kalu and EFCC adopted all processes filed for and against the suit.

Daily Post learnt on Sunday September 19 that notice for delivery of judgment has been issued and served on both EFCC and Senator Kalu through their respective lawyers by the court bailiff.

The former governor, who is now a Senator representing Abia North Senatorial district in the senate, is seeking to stop his retrial in the N7.1bn money laundering charges on the ground that he had been tried, convicted and imprisoned on the strength of the same charges.

Professor Awa Kalu SAN, counsel to the former governor, while adopting his processes, had informed the court that senator Kalu stood for trial for 12 years and got a judgment that convicted and jailed him for 10 years.

The senior counsel cited section 36 (9) of the 1999 constitution which stipulates that no Nigerian shall be subjected to double jeopardy to support his arguments

Awa Kalu insisted that the former governor, having served a period of jail term, would be made to suffer double jeopardy if allowed by the court to be put on trial for the second time by the federal government.

Professor Kalu had produced and read the Supreme Court judgment upon which the ex governor was released after five months in prison adding that there was nowhere in the judgment where the apex court made order for his client’s trial.

He had challenged the EFCC to point out to court where order for retrial was made against the former governor

The senior lawyer had then urged the court to prohibit EFCC from going ahead with the planned retrial.

However in a vehement opposition to the suit., EFCC through its counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs SAN, asked the court to dismiss the suit with anger.

He submitted that the judgment which led to the release of Kalu has been declared a nullity by the Supreme Court which also ordered retrial of the appellant in the matter, Mr Udeh Jones who stood trial along with Kalu in the same charges.

EFCC had argued that since the Supreme Court order benefitted Kalu, he must bear the burden that arose from the apex court verdict.

Jacobs described Kalu’s suit as approbating and reprobating at the same time, frivolous, irritating and sought for it’s dismissal with order on Kalu to face retrial.

In a short ruling that followed, Justice Ekwo fixed September 20 for judgment in the matter.

Specifically, Kalu is seeking an order of court prohibiting the federal government, through the EFCC, its officers, servants, others, agents, privies and any other person or bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying him on charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & 2 ors, or any other charge based on the same facts de novo, there being no extant judgment and ruling of a competent court in Nigeria mandating same.

The ex governor had also applied for order prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the EFCC (her agent), her officers, servants, others, agents, privies and any other person or bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying, harassing and intimidating him with respect to the charge as concerns charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & 2 ors or any other charge based on same facts as he need not suffer double jeopardy.

Also Kalu is asking the federal high court to restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from retrying him on the same alleged N7.1b money laundering charges against him.

He contended that having been tried once by EFCC, convicted and sentenced in the same charges FHC/ABJ/CR/56/ 2007, it will amount to double jeopardy for him if he is allowed to be subjected to a fresh trial on the same charge.

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