Orji Kalu vs EFCC: Court fixes judgment day
The Federal High Court Abuja, has fixed Sept. 20 for judgment in the suit by former Abia governor, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu challenging his retrial for money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date on Friday, after all the lawyers to parties in the case adopted their briefs of argument in the matter.
Prof. Awa Kalu, SAN is the lawyer to Orji Kalu, while Mr Rotimi Jacobs, also a SAN stood for the EFCC.
Mr George Ukaegbu is the lawyer for the second respondent, Udeh Jones and Mr Chris Uche,SAN, lawyer for Slok Nigeria Ltd, the third respondent.
In his submission, Awa Kalu said that there was no disagreement that the former governor stood trial for 12 years, was sentenced to 10 years and spent over five months at the correctional center.
He cited Section 36 (9) of the 1999 constitution which stipulates that no Nigerian shall be subjected to double jeopardy.
Kalu insisted 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.
Kalu produced and read the Supreme Court judgment upon which the former governor was released after five months in prison.
He added that there was no where in the judgment where the apex court made an order for his retrial.
He challenged the EFCC to point out to court where an order for retrial was made against the former governor.
Counsel to the EFCC, Jacobs asked the court to dismiss the application, which he described as unusual and strange.
Jacobs described Kalu’s suit as approbating and reprobating at the same time, frivolous, irritating.
He asked for its dismissal.
He also submitted that the application of the former governor was an abuse of court process, which the court should not tolerate.
Ukaegbu, on behalf of his client, the second respondent, told the court to discountenance EFCC’ s submissions.
He added that the only way the submissions of the EFCC would be valid would be if there was an order from a superior court for a re-trial.
Uche, counsel to Slok Nig. Ltd told the court that the former governor had satisfied the necessary requirements for the court to grant his application.
He emphasised the fact that the only reason a retrial would be valid was when the prosecution provided any evidence of an order of a superior court for the retrial of the former governor.
The senior lawyer prayed the court to favourably consider the application of the applicant and grant his prayers.
Justice Ekwo, after listening to all the submissions, commended the way and manner the proceedings in the matter were conducted by counsel.
He adjourned the matter until Sept. 20 for judgment.
He said the adjournment date is tentative and that if the judgement was ready before then, the court would inform parties.
The former governor is seeking an order of the court prohibiting the EFCC from retrying him on same alleged money laundering charges for which he had been tried, convicted and sentenced by justice M.B. Idris of the Lagos division of the court.
He contended that, it would amount to double jeopardy if he is subjected to a fresh trial on same charge.
EFCC, in a response to the suit, asked the court to dismiss it on the grounds that the planned re-trial would not amount to a case of double jeopardy.
The commission in its response argued that the re-trial is in compliance with the order of the Supreme Court which held that the whole trial was a nullity having been conducted without jurisdiction.
Justice Ekwo had earlier granted leave to Kalu to seek an order prohibiting the EFCC from retrying him on charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & two 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 court also gave an order prohibiting the EFCC from retrying, harassing and intimidating him with respect to the charge as concerned charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & two others or any other charge based on same facts as he needs not suffer double jeopardy.