The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said it would immediately begin a fresh trial of former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, for theft of public fund and money laundering.
The Supreme Court had on Friday voided Mr Kalu’s conviction to a 12-year jail term for allegedly stealing about N7.1 billion from Abia State treasury while he served as governor of the state between 1999 and 2007.
A seven-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Amina Augie held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it sentenced Mr Kalu.
It held that trial judge, 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.
The court, therefore, ordered a fresh trial of Mr Kalu and the other defendants.
In reaction to the verdict, the EFCC in a statement on Friday described the order as “quite unfortunate.”
It vowed to prepare a fresh and immediate trial of the case, saying this is because its evidences against Mr Kalu and the others were overwhelming.
Read the EFCC statement.
EFCC SET FOR FRESH, IMMEDIATE RE-TRIAL
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.
Head, Media & Publicity