By Balogun Damilola
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says Orji Kalu, former Abia state governor, will face immediate retrial for money laundering.
The supreme court voided Kalu’s conviction on Friday. He had been sentenced to 12 years in jail by a federal high court before the apex court nullified his conviction.
Although the supreme court did not acquit him of the charges of money laundering, the court upturned the verdict of the trial court on the grounds that Mohammed Liman, the judge who heard the case, was no longer a judge of the federal high court at the time he handled and delivered judgment on the matter.
In a statement hours after the apex court’s decision, the EFCC said it will begin the prosecution of Kalu immediately.
The anti-graft agency described the judgment as a technical ambush against the trial of the former governor.
”The attention of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been drawn to the judgment of the Supreme Court nullifying the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu , his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Jones Udeogu, a former Director of Finance and Account of Abia State Government and ordering their fresh trial at the lower court,” it said in a statement issued by Dele Oyewale, its spokesman.
”The apex court based its verdict on the grounds that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted Kalu and others had been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the judgment and returned to the lower court to deliver the judgment which it considered as illegal.
”The EFCC considers the judgment of the apex court as quite unfortunate . It is a technical ambush against the trial of the former governor.
”The Commission is prepared for a fresh and immediate trial of the case because its evidences against Kalu and others are overwhelming. The corruption charges against Kalu still subsist because the Supreme Court did not acquit him of them. The entire prosecutorial machinery of the EFCC would be launched in a fresh trial where justice is bound to be served in due course.”
Kalu was tried on 39 counts of money laundering to the tune of N7.1 billion.