Alleged N7.1billion Fraud: EFCC Asks Abuja Court To Transfer Orji Kalu’s Case To Lagos
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked for the transfer of Orji Kalu’s case file from the Abuja division of Federal High Court to the one in Lagos State.
It will be recalled that Senator Kalu, who was the governor of Abia State from 1999 to 2007, was earlier found guilty and handed a 12-year jail term by Lagos Division of the court.
The trial court convicted him alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and a former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu, for allegedly stealing about N7.1billion from the state treasury.
At the court session on Tuesday, counsel for the EFCC, Chile Okoroma, informed the court of a pending letter before the Chief Judge asking for the transfer of the case to Lagos.
He said the Chief Judge is yet to respond to the letter which was written in line with the judgment of the Supreme Court ordering the prosecution to try Senator Kalu afresh.
Okoroma stated that none of the offences allegedly committed by Kalu took place in Abuja and that the Supreme Court has held that the case cannot be heard in the FCT.
He asked the court to adjourn the matter pending a reply from the Chief Judge.
Although the Prosecution was unavailable for comments, the lawyer to Senator Kalu insists that the proper place for the trial of his client is Umuahia, Abia State capital where the offences were allegedly committed.
Ruling on the application, Justice Inyang Ekwo held;
Even without your application, the matter cannot go on. But I cannot adjourn the matter sine die. There must be a specific date for the report.
The judge then adjourned the case till June 7.
Kalu, who is the current Chief Whip of the Senate and former governor of Abia state, was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in December 2019 after he was convicted of diverting N7.1 billion from the coffers of the Abia State government for personal use.
However, the Supreme Court, in a judgement delivered on May 8th, 2020 nullified the entire proceedings that led to Senator Kalu’s conviction, stressing that the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, was already elevated to the court of appeal, as at the time he sat and delivered a judgement against the defendants.
It noted that Justice Idris was no longer a judge of Federal High Court as of December 5, 2019, the day the former governor and his co-defendants were found guilty of the money laundering charge against them.
The apex court then ordered a retrial of the defendants.