N7.6bn fraud: Appeal Court dismisses FG’s bid to retry Orji Kalu

Senator Orji Kalu

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has rejected the Federal Government’s bid to retry the former governor of Abia and the senator representing Abia North, Orji Uzor Kalu, in the N7.6bn fraud case preferred against him.

Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court had on December 5, 2019, sentenced the former governor to 12 years in prison for allegedly stealing public funds while in office.

Also, the Abia State Government House Director of Finance and Accounts during Kanu’s tenure, Ude Udeogu, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the offence.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had charged Kalu, Udeogu, and Kanu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited for conspiracy and diversion of N7.65bn from the coffers of the state.

Dissatisfied with the judgment of the Federal High Court, Kalu, and Udeogu filed an appeal to challenge their sentencing at the apex court.

The apex court’s judgement delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, declared the conviction of the appellants as null and void on the ground that Idris was already a Justice of the Court of Appeal at the time he delivered the judgment.

Justice Eko further held that a Justice of the Court of Appeal cannot operate as a judge of the Federal High Court.

The apex court, however, ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to reassign the case for a fresh trial.

Kalu, however, went back to the Federal High Court and obtained an order restraining the EFCC from re-trying him.

Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo who issued the prohibition order against EFCC said that Kalu was not expressly stated in the judgment of the Supreme Court.

Dissatisfied, the apex government appealed against the decision of the high court.

Reading the lead judgment on Wednesday, Justice Joseph Oyewole dismissed the appeal over the failure of the government to produce proper records of the high court proceedings.

Justice Oyewole also held that the record brought by the government was not reliable for the request to be granted.

Oyewole said, “The record of an appeal brought by the federal government was incompetent and unreliable for any court to use to grant the request of the government.”

He also pointed out that the record of appeal brought was not compiled, signed, and certified by any person known to law.

“The name of the person who compiled signed, and certified the record was not reflected as required by law,” he added.