The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has on Friday stated that the judgment of the Supreme Court on the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor-Kalu, whose trial and conviction processes were voided today is a technical ambush.
The agency also stated that it is set for the immediate retrial of Uzor-Kalu, whose trial and conviction processes were voided on Friday by the apex court.
The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie, ordered that Kalu and others be retried because the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu and other defendants.
It held that the trial by Justice Mohammed Idris, who was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at the time he sat and delivered the judgment that convicted the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1 billion from Abia state treasury, was null and void.
The apex court said that for the judge to have returned to the lower court to deliver the judgment was illegal.
Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Jones Udeogu, a former Director of Finance and Account of Abia State, were in December sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for alleged N7.2 billion fraud and money laundering.
Reacting to the judgment in a statement, EFCC’s Spokesman, Mr Dele Oyewale, on Friday said the commission expressed sadness over the nullification of Kalu’s conviction by the Supreme Court.
Oyewale stated that the apex court based its verdict on the grounds that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted Kalu and others, had been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the judgment.
“The EFCC considers the judgment of the apex court as quite unfortunate. It is a technical ambush against the trial of the former governor.
“The Commission is prepared for a fresh and immediate retrial of the case because its evidences against Kalu and others are overwhelming.
“The corruption charges against Kalu still subsist because the Supreme Court did not acquit him of them.
“The entire prosecutorial machinery of the EFCC will be launched in a fresh trial where justice is bound to be served in due course,” he said.