A federal high court in Abuja has barred the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from retrying Orji Uzor Kalu on allegations of money laundering.
The EFCC had prosecuted Kalu, former governor of Abia state, alongside Ude Udeogu, a former director of finance and accounts with the Abia state government, and Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, on 39 counts of fraud involving N7.1 billion at a federal high court in Lagos.
Mohammed Idris, who is now a justice of the court of appeal, had at the end of the trial, sentenced Kalu to 12 years’ imprisonment while Udeogu was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The third defendant, Slok Nigeria Limited, was ordered to be wound up and its assets forfeited to the Nigerian government.
But in twist to the saga, the Supreme Court on May 8, 2020, voided the trial and ordered a retrial following an appeal filed by Kalu’s co-defendant, after which Kalu asked the court to stop the commission from retrying him.
Delivering judgment on Wednesday, Inyang Ekwo, the judge, held that the supreme court in its judgment did not specifically order that Kalu should be retried.
“He cannot be retried safe with an order of the supreme court,” the judge held.
Ekwo, however, held that since the apex court specifically ordered that the case file of Udeogu be returned to the federal high court, the EFCC can proceed with his retrial.
“The supreme court order on Mr Udeogu was explicit, that the case file be returned to the chief judge for assignment to another judge.
“No order was made that the case file of the former governor be returned to the chief judge for assignment to another judge.”
The court then fixed January 11, 2022, for the arraignment of Udeogu.