A judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Inyang Ekwo, yesterday, barred the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from retrying a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, who had earlier been convicted of N7.1 billion fraud.
Kalu, a serving senator representing Abia North, was already serving a 12-year jail term for the offence when the Supreme Court, on May 8, 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 retrial at the Federal High Court.
Kalu, who is the incumbent Chief Whip of the 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, the judge, Inyang Ekwo, granted the ex-governor’s request.
The judge 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.
“On the whole, the fact that there is no order for retrial of the applicant (Kalu) in the judgment of the Supreme Court, or by the virtue of Section 36 (9) of the 1999 constitution as amended, or Section 283 (2) of the ACJA (Administration of Criminal Justice Act), has allowed prayer two of the applicant to succeed.
“Going by the facts and circumstances of this case, I find that the case of the applicant (Mr. Kalu) has succeeded,” the judge said.
He also cited section 36 (9) of the Nigerian constitution and Section 238 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), in saying, “no person can be retried on the offence upon which he has been convicted.
“The order of prohibition is hereby made, prohibiting the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and agents, officers, servants, persons or bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying the applicant in charge number: FHC/ABJ/56/2007 or any other charge based on the same facts de novo (afresh).
There has been no extant judgment or ruling of a competent in Nigeria mandating same. That is the judgment of the court,” Ekwo said.