A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja suspended the re-trial of the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu over allegations of fraud to the tune of N7.1 billion while he was governor of Abia State between 1999 and 2007 The relief for Kalu followed an application he made to stop the fresh trial.
Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order for the temporary stay in the re-trial following an application filed by Kalu for leave to file a motion to halt the trial on the basis of double jeopardy. He also ordered that Kalu should not be harassed or arrested in respect of the issues arising from the N7.1 billion fraud case for which he was tried and convicted.
Kalu was last December sentenced to 12 years imprisonment following his conviction by a Federal High Court, Lagos in the first trial.
However, after spending six months in prison the sentence was annulled by the Supreme Court upon the claim that the presiding judge who presided over and served him the sentence, Justice Idris Mohammed had been elevated to the Court of Appeal.
The apex court as such ordered a retrial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Court, EFCC had as such last Tuesday re-arraigned him but at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The EFCC and Kalu, interestingly were opposed to the arraignment in Abuja. Kalu has applied that retrying him would amount to double jeopardy having been tried and sentenced in Lagos.
The EFCC on its part is asking that the trial be moved to Lagos which it claims has the proper jurisdiction to conduct the trial.
Relief For Kalu
Ruling on Kalu’s application to halt the trial on Monday Justice Ekwo held that the application of Kalu was meritorious and as such granted him leave to challenge his re-trial.
Justice Ekwo then made an order prohibiting the federal government through the EFCC or any of its agents from re-trying Kalu for the same offence he was found guilty and convicted.
The court also ordered the government not to harass and or arrest him in respect of the offence which he had been convicted and sentenced.