Court fixes judgment for Sept 10 in Orji Kalu’s suit against retrial

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A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, scheduled judgment for September 10 in the suit by ex-Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu against his retrial.

Justice Inyang Ekwo chose the date after entertaining final arguments from lawyers representing parties.

Kalu, is by the suit, challenging his planned retrial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an N7.1billion fraud case after the Supreme Court voided his earlier trial and conviction along with two others.

The ex-governor, who hinged his case on Section 36 (9) of the Constitution argued that been tried, convicted and sentenced the on same charges, FHC/ABJ/CR/56/ 2007, by the court under Justice M.B. Idris, it would amount to double jeopardy if he is subjected to a fresh trial on same charge.

Kalu was charged and tried with his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and an ex-Finance Director in the state, Ude Jones Udeogu, for their alleged complicity in diverting the N7.1b from Abia State’s coffers.

They were convicted and while Kalu and Udeogu were imprisoned, Slok was shut down.

But upon an appeal by Udeogu, the Supreme Court set aside their trial and conviction in a judgment on May 8, 2020 on the grounds that the trial judge, having been elevated, ought not to have continued to hear the case.

In the judgment given in an appeal, marked: SC/62C/2019 filed by Udeogu, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial in the case.

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It is that retrial that Kalu now seeks to prevent with his suit, in which he argued among others that a retrial would subject him to double jeopardy.

On Friday, Prof. Awa Kalu, SAN, (lawyer to Kalu), George Ukaegbu (for Udeogu) and Chris Uche, SAN, (for Slok) urged the court to uphold the ex-governor’s argument.

Kalu contended that, in the absence of any extant judgment or order of a competent court directing his client’s fresh trial, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) cannot engage in any retrial.

He argued that there was no disagreement among parties that his client was not a party to the appeal before the Supreme Court and that the order for retrial made by the Supreme Court did not relate to his client.

Kalu noted that the former governor stood for trial for 12 years, convicted and jailed for 10 years.

He added that the former governor, having served a period of jail term, would be subjected to double jeopardy if allowed by the court to be put on trial for the second time.

Reading from a copy of the Supreme Court judgment, upon which Kalu was released from prison after five months, the lawyer stated that there was no where in the judgment where his client trial was ordered to be retried.

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