The Supreme Court has finally cleared the coast for the former Abia Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu to be prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). This is after eight year the former Abia Governor was arraigned for money laundering and misappropriation of state funds.
Kalu is to face on a 107-count corruption charge, which borders on the alleged complicity in money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds to the tune of N5.6bn.
In a unanimous judgment on Friday, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by Kalu to stop his trial.
The apex court ordered the appellant to go and face his trial before the High Court.
While upholding the Court of Appeal verdict, Justice Suleiman Galadima who delivered the lead verdict, said the apex court was satisfied that the former Governor has a case to answer pertaining to allegations that were levelled against him by the EFCC.
Besides, the apex court ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to re-assign the case to another Judge to enable the trial to commence de-novo (afresh). The apex court also ordered accelerated hearing of the matter.
Kalu was alleged to have perpetuated the fraud while he was the Governor of Abia State between 1999 and 2007.
EFCC had arraigned him before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on July 27, 2007, the matter has been stalled for the past eight years.
The defendant, through various interlocutory applications, frustrated moves by the prosecution to open its case against him.
The defendant firstly challenged the competence of the charge against him, as well as the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear and determine the case.
Meanwhile, following refusal by the trial court to quash the charge, Kalu, took the case before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
The appellate court, in a unanimous judgment, upheld the competence of the charge, adding that the High Court was constitutionally empowered to exercise jurisdiction on the trial.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, Kalu approached the Supreme Court, begging it to set-aside the concurrent findings of the two lower courts. Orji Kalu
The former Governor, through his lawyer Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, had approached a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, to quash the criminal charge against him.
He contended that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie nexus linking him to the ingredients of the offence contained in the charge.
Kalu contended that the proof of evidence the anti-graft agency adduced against him did not nail him to the commission of any crime.