Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday, adjourned till September 20, 2021, to deliver judgment in the suit filed by former Abia State governor and Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The former governor, who is now a senator representing Abia North Senatorial District in the Senate is challenging his re-trial on money laundering charges for which he had been tried, convicted and sentenced by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
The court fixed the date after counsel in the suit, Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN) for Kalu, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) for the EFCC, George Ukaegbu appeared for Udeh Jones (2nd respondent) and Chief Chris Uche (SAN) for Slok Nigeria Ltd (3rd respondent), respectively, adopted their processes for and against the suit.
Prof. Awa Kalu SAN, counsel to the former governor, while adopting his processes informed that Kalu stood for trial for 12 years, got the judgment that convicted and jailed him for ten years.
While citing section 36 (9) of the 1999 constitution which stipulates that no Nigerian shall be subjected to double jeopardy, Kalu insisted that the former governor, having served a jail term would be subjected to double jeopardy if allowed by the court to be put on trial for the second time.
Prof Kalu 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 an order for his client’s trial.
He challenged the anti-graft agency to point out to court where an order for retrial was made against the former governor and prayed the court to prohibit EFCC from going ahead with the planned retrial.
However, in opposition to the suit, EFCC through its counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) asked the court to dismiss the suit, saying that the judgment which led to the release of Kalu has been declared a nullity by the Supreme Court which also ordered the retrial of the appellant in the matter, Mr Udeh Jones who stood trial with Kalu in the same charges.
EFCC argued that since the Supreme Court order benefitted Kalu, he must bear the burden that arose from the apex court decision.
Jacobs described Kalu’s suit as approbating and reprobating at the same time, frivolous, irritating and sought for its dismissal with an order for Kalu’s retrial.
George Ukaegbu, who appeared for Udeh Jones (2nd respondent) told the court to discountenance EFCC’ s submission while pointing out that the only way their submissions would be valid will be if there was an order by a superior court for a re-trial.
Uche, representing Slok Nig. Ltd told the court that the former governor has satisfied the necessary requirements for the court to grant the application.
He said the prosecution could not show any evidence of an order of a superior court for the retrial of the former governor and urged the court to grant his prayers.
The trial, judge, after listening to submissions of parties, commended the way and manner of the proceedings in the matter and adjourned till September 20, 2021, for judgment.
The former governor wants an order of the court prohibiting the EFCC from retrying him on the same alleged money laundering charges for which he had been tried, convicted and sentenced by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Lagos Division of the court.
He contended that it would amount to double jeopardy if he is subjected to a fresh trial on the same charge.