The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has vowed to appeal against Wednesday’s ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja stopping the retrial of a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, on N7.1billion fraud charges.
The anti-graft agency said in a statement that the judge, Inyang Ekwo, erred in his application of the law by failing to abide by the Supreme Court’s earlier order a retrial in the case.
“EFCC believes the judge erred in this ruling as Section 36(9) of the 1999 constitution is applicable only where the previous judgment was by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“In this case, the apex court had in the said judgment described the process that led to the conviction of Kalu as a nullity because the judge came from the Court of Appeal to decide the matter,” EFCC’s statement signed by its spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, read in part.
The court had stopped EFCC from prosecuting Mr Kalu, a serving senator, despite a Supreme Court’s judgment ordering a retrial of the N7.1 billion case in which he had been previously convicted and jailed 12 years.
He was already serving the 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 Mr Kalu’s co-defendant, Ude Udeogu, had ordered a retrial at the Federal High Court.
Mr Kalu, who is the incumbent Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate, got out of prison based on the apex court’s judgement, but quickly filed an application before the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop his retrial.
The judge, Mr Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, in his ruling on the application on Wednesday, said Mr Kalu could not be prosecuted since the Supreme Court’s judgment did not contain an order for his retrial.
EFCC in its reaction argued that the judge failed to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision.
It also accused the judge of cherry-picking by giving effect to the apex court’s decision nullifying the previous conviction, but refusing to implement the aspect of the verdict that ordered a retrial.
“The commission further avers that the court erred in its ruling that the Supreme Court did not order the retrial of Kalu; that it amounts to cherry-picking for Kalu to profit from the decision of the apex court nullifying the conviction of his co defendant, Ude Udeagu but is not prepared to face the burden of retrial,” the statement added.
The statement added: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will appeal the ruling today by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court stopping the Commission from retrying a former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.”