The Federal Government on Monday asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja to order fresh trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, over alleged money laundering.
The government asked the appellate court to void and set aside the September 29, 2021 judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja which stopped it from retrying Kalu and his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, over alleged N7.1 billion fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission also asked the Appellate Court to order Kalu and Slok to submit themselves for retrial in line with the order of the Supreme Court in its May 8, 2020 judgment that voided the earlier trial and conviction of Kalu and two others.
The requests were contained in two Notices of Appeal filed by EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), against the two judgments delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja on September 29.
UGAMATV reported that Justice Ekwo had, in the judgment on applications for judicial review filed by Kalu and Slok, upheld among others, their argument that a retrial would subject them to double jeopardy having earlier been tried, convicted and sentenced on the same case.
Kalu was charged and tried with Slok and Udeogu for their alleged complicity in diverting the N7.1 billion from Abia State’s coffers.
They were convicted and, while Kalu and Udeogu were imprisoned for 12 and 10 years, Slok was wound up.
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.
Although Kalu and his firm were not appellants in the appeal in respect of which the Supreme Court gave its judgment, they later tendered the judgment before a Federal High Court in Lagos and the court applied the judgment to them and set them free.
In the nine-ground notice of appeal filed in relation to Kalu, the EFCC argued that Justice Ekwo erred in law when he, on one hand agreed that the earlier trial, conviction and sentencing of Kalu was duly voided, but turned around to hold that a retrial would subject the ex-governor to double jeopardy. ,,