Nigeria Senate’s Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, will return to court on Tuesday February 2, over money laundering charges to the tune of N7.1 billion.
The former Governor of Abia State will be arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo’s Federal High Court for a ‘de novo’ trial.
Earlier, Uzor Kalu was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment before his lawyers in mid 2020 secured judgement for a ‘retrial.’
The lawmaker, who governed Abia State from 1999 to 2007 was earlier found guilty and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by Lagos Division of the Federal High Court as the trial judge averred that Uzor Kalu laundered money through his personal company, Slok Nigeria Limited, along with Abia State former Director of Finance, Jones Udeogu.
The court proceedings were, however, squashed unanimously by the Supreme Court on the ground of the trial judge’s lack of jurisdiction to try Kalu at the time after he spent months in Nigeria’s Correctional Centre, Lagos.
The Supreme Court’s judgement maintained that Justice Mohammed Idris, was already elevated to the Court of Appeal, as at the time he sat and delivered judgement against the Defendants (Orji Uzor Kalu and others).
Kalu’s defence Counsels picked holes in the conviction of their client, stating that it wasn’t part of the Court procedure to have a trial judge already elevated to the Court of Appeal to stoop lower to the Federal High Court to sit in judgement, hence, they pleaded that the Supreme should declare Kalu’s conviction a nullify.
The Supreme Court held inter alia: “The fiat that was issued to him by the Court of Appeal President pursuant to section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, was a nullity.”
It further ordered that the charge in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CR/26/2017, which EFCC entered against Orji Uzor Kalu and his co-defendants, should be remitted back to Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment to any other judge for the trial to commence de-novo (afresh).