By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
A former governor of Abia State and Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from prosecuting him afresh on the same alleged N7.1 billion money laundering charges.
Kalu argued that having been tried once by the anti-graft agency, convicted and sentenced in the same charges FHC/ABJ/CR/56/ 2007, it would amount to double jeopardy for him if he is allowed to be subjected to a fresh trial on same charges.
In an ex-parte motion moved before Justice Inyang Ekwo on Tuesday through his counsel, Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), Senator Kalu who was in court, pleaded with the trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo to rescue him from suffering double jeopardy
He further sought for an order of court prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the EFCC, its officers, servants, others, agents, privies and any other person or bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying him on charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & 2 ors or any other charge based on the same facts de novo, there being no extant judgment and ruling of a competent court in Nigeria mandating same.
The ex-governor also applied for order prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the EFCC (her agent), her officers, servants, others, agents, privies and any other person or bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying, harrassing and intimidating him with respect to the charge as concerns charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & 2 ors or any other charge based on same facts as he need not suffer double jeopardy.
Kalu further asked that if his application is granted, it should operate as a stay of proceedings until the determination of the application or until the Judge otherwise orders.
Meanwhile, the arraignment slated for Tuesday was put off as EFCC applied that the trial of the former governor be transferred from Abuja to the Lagos division of the court.
When the matter came up, the prosecution counsel Mr. Chile Okoroma , informed Justice Ekwo that the EFCC had written two letters to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, seeking for movement of the trial to Lagos in compliance with a Supreme Court judgment.
He reminded the Judge that the Supreme Court in its judgment directed that the trial be held in Lagos since the larger ingredients of the alleged offence were committed in Lagos.
Insisting on prosecuting Kalu in Abuja would amount to an exercise in futility and disobedience to Supreme Court order, the EFCC counsel sought for an indefinite arraignment of Kalu to allow the transfer of the matter to Lagos, based on the letters to the Chief Judge of the court.
After listening to the varying arguments canvassed by counsel in the suit, Justice Ekwo declined to grant an indefinite adjournment and fixed June 7, 2021 for report of the Chief Judge on the transfer application.