Orji Uzor Kalu, former Abia state governor, has asked a federal high court in Abuja to stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from proceeding to try him over an alleged N7.1 billion fraud.
At the court session on Tuesday which was fixed for the arraignment of the defendants, Orji Uzor Kalu through his counsel, Awa Kalu, notified the court of an ex parte application seeking to stop his client’s retrial.
The lawyer said the supreme court judgment was peculiar to Udeogu and that his client was exempted from the order of retrial. He argued that it will amount to double jeopardy if the former governor is allowed to be subjected to a fresh trial on the same charge.
Among several orders, Kalu prayed the court for an order “prohibiting the federal republic of Nigeria, 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 Uzor Kalu & 2 ors 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”.
He also asked 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.”
Ruling on the application has been fixed for February 8.
Meanwhile, the EFCC has asked the court to transfer Kalu’s case file to the Lagos division of the federal high court.
Chine Okoroma, EFCC counsel, told the court that he has written to the chief judge of the court seeking a transfer of the case.
Relying on a supreme court judgment, Okoroma said hearing the matter in Abuja would amount to an exercise in futility as the offenses were not committed within the jurisdiction.
The EFCC had preferred a 36-count charge against Orji Uzor Kalu and Ude Jones Udeogu, a former director of finance and account in Abia in 2007. While the former governor bagged 12 years imprisonment in December 2019, Udeogu was sentenced to 10 years in prison on December 5, 2019.
However, the supreme court on May 8, 2020, voided the trial after an appeal filed by Kalu’s co-defendant. The supreme court nullified the trial on the grounds that Mohammed Idris, the trial judge, had no jurisdiction to hear the matter after he was elevated to the court of appeal.
The apex court ordered that the case be issued to another judge for a fresh trial.