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Alleged N7.1bn fraud: Orji Uzor Kalu pleads to court to remove his name from charge

The former governor of Abia, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu has asked the Federal High Court, Abuja to remove his name from the N7.1 billion charge leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).

Alleged N7.1bn fraud: Orji Uzor Kalu pleads to court to remove his name from charge

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Orji who filed the application through his counsel Mr. Ikoro Ikoro said the application was predicated on a judgment delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo on Sept. 29, 2021, which barred the EFCC from retrying his client based on the charge.

Kalu submitted that having been freed, there was no reason for his name to continue to appear on the charge hence his application to the court to formally strike out his name from the charge sheet.

The former governor also asked the court to make an order for the EFCC to unfreeze his bank account.

Similarly, Mr. Chris Uche, (SAN), counsel representing Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Ltd. also filed an application seeking an order of the court to remove the name of the company from the charge.

At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Mr. Solo Akuma, counsel to Mr. Ude Udeogu, Kalu’s co-defendant told the court that the business of the day was to hear the case of his client who was in court and ready to proceed with his case.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the court had ordered the retrial of Udeogu and fixed Jan. 11 but the matter as well as hearing of all pending applications could not go on.

Uche informed the court that the EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), served his response to their application which they served on him since October 2021, on Jan. 10 and they needed time to respond.

The prosecutor, for his part, told the court that he had filed an application seeking a transfer of the case to the Lagos division.

Consequently, with the consensus of counsel, the judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the matter until March 10, for a hearing of Kalu and Slok’s applications as well as EFCC’s motion on notice seeking transfer of the matter to Lagos.

Justice Ekwo had on Sept. 29, 2021, stopped the EFCC from retrying Kalu, over alleged N7.1 billion fraud.

Kalu was charged alongside his firm, Slok, and Udeogu, and while the duo was convicted and sentenced for 12 years, the company was wound up.

However, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court declared the conviction null and void.

The apex court explained that the declaration was on the ground that Justice Mohammed Idris who delivered the judgment at the trial court was already a justice of the Court of Appeal at the time he delivered the judgment.

Following an attempt by the EFCC to retry Kalu, the former governor approached the court to challenge the decision.

The former governor argued that allowing the EFCC to try him afresh on the charge and the same facts upon which he was earlier convicted and sentenced on Dec. 5, 2019, would occasion him to suffer double jeopardy.

The court, in its ruling, opined that since Kalu was not mentioned in the judgment of the Supreme Court, which had nullified his conviction and sentencing and ordered a retrial, the judgment did not apply to him.

The judge reasoned that it was only Udeogu that could be retried as only his name was mentioned in the Supreme Court judgment.

Updated: January 12, 2022 — 1:04 pm

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