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Breaking: Court halts money laundering trial of Orji Kalu

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Emmanuel Agbor

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has ordered that the re-arraignment of former Governor of Abia state, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu be stopped, pending the determination of the legality of the retrial charges against him.

Kalu was initially prosecuted and convicted for allegedly frittering the sum of N7.1b belonging to the Abia state government when he was in office as governor.

Delivering ruling in a motion exparte filed by Prof Awa Kalu on behalf of the former governor, Justice Ekwo held that the Senator representing Abia North has placed enough materials of value before the court to enable him secure permission for judicial review of his retrial in charges in which he had been tried, convicted and spent some months in Kuje prison in Abuja.

Therefore, Kalu has been granted leave to challenge the legality of the retrial in the same charges, Daily Independent reports.

Kalu, who is Senate Chief Whip was also granted permission to apply for order of perpetual injunction against the Federal Government through Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to prohibit his retrial so as not to suffer double jeopardy.

In the ex-parte motion moved before Justice Ekwo last Tuesday, Kalu through his counsel, Professor Awa Kalu (SAN), pleaded the court to rescue him from suffering double jeopardy.

He is therefore 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 others, 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, harrassing 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.

Kalu noted that if his application is granted, it should operate as a stay of proceedings until the determination of the application or until the Judge otherwise orders.

Consequently, the court has given Kalu seven days within which to file and serve on EFCC all processes he intends to use to challenge the legality or otherwise of the trial.

In view of the development, the court has fixed February 23, 2021, for mentioning of the case.

In the suit, 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.

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