Appeal Court bars EFCC from retrying Kalu

The Appeal Court, Abuja, yesterday, struck out the Federal Government’s appeal seeking to reopen the trial of former Abia State governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

A three-member panel of the court, in the judgment delivered, yesterday, held that the record of appeal transmitted before the court was incompetent.

Reading the lead judgment, Joseph Oyewole held that the federal government failed to properly transmit the record as prescribed by the rules of the court, and that it was neither stamped nor properly signed.

Consequently, the two appeals marked: CA/ABJ/CV/797/2021 and CA/ABJ/CV/798/2021, filed against Kalu and his firm, were struck out.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had prosecuted Kalu, alongside Ude Udeogu, a former director of finance and accounts with the Abia State government; and Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, on 39 counts of fraud involving N7.1 billion, at the Federal High Court, Lagos.

Mohammed Idris, now a justice of the Court of Appeal, had, at the end of the trial, sentenced Kalu to 12 years imprisonment, while Udeogu was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The third defendant, Slok Nigeria Limited, was ordered to be wound up and its assets forfeited to the federal government.

The Supreme Court, however, nullified the trial and ordered a retrial following an appeal filed by Kalu’s co-defendant. But Kalu asked the court to stop the commission from retrying him.

He said the supreme court’s pronouncement on retrial was peculiar to Udeogu, adding that it would amount to double jeopardy if he is allowed to be subjected to a fresh trial on the same charge.

In September 2021, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court held that the Supreme Court did not specifically order that Kalu should be retried.

“He cannot be retried safe with an order of the Supreme Court,” the judge held.

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