A Federal High Court judge in Abuja, Inyang Ekwo, yesterday, barred the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), from retrying a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, who was earlier convicted of N7.1 billion fraud.
Kalu, a serving senator representing Abia-North, was already serving a 12-year jail term for the offences when the Supreme Court, on 8 May 2020, nullified the proceedings, leading to his and his co-defendants’ conviction.
The Supreme Court’s judgment, delivered on an appeal by Kalu’s co-defendant, Ude Udeogu, had ordered a re-trial at the Federal High Court.
Orji Kalu, who is the incumbent Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate, got out of prison based on the apex court’s judgment but quickly filed an application before the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop his retrial.
Ruling on the application yesterday, Judge Ekwo granted the ex-governor’s request and held that the apex court’s verdict did not order the retrial of Kalu. “The judgment of the Supreme Court on this matter is final”, he declared.
However, the court ordered the retrial of Udeh Udeogu, which he slated for January 11, 2022.
Shortly after the judgment was handed down, EFCC’s lawyer, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, told newsmen that the verdict would be challenged.
Recall that Kalu was tried based on amended 39 counts in which they were accused of stealing and mismanaging funds belonging to Abia State during his days as governor between 1999 and 2007.
He was tried alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor.