Orji Kalu wants Court to Strike out Name from N7.1bn Fraud Suit

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Senator Orji Kalu, has asked a Federal High, Abuja, to strike out his name from the N7.1billion fraud charge filed against him and two others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC).

 

 

Kalu’s request was predicated on a judgment delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo last year, stopping his trial in the same charge wherein he was tried, convicted and jailed.

He is also seeking from the court an order compelling EFCC to remove restrictions placed on his company’s bank account.

The EFCC based on the judgment of the Supreme Court had sought to rearraign Kalu, his company and one Jones Udeogu, who was Commissioner of Finance, when Kalu was Abia State Governor.

However, the former governor urged the court to remove his name from the charges based on an earlier judgment which barred the anti-graft agency from retrying him on the alleged offence.

Kalu, who is the Chief Whip of the Senate representing Abia North Senatorial District submitted that having been freed, it behoves him to apply to the court to formally strike out his name and Slok from the charge sheet.

However, the scheduled rearraignment of the former Commissioner of Finance in Abia state, Jones Udeogu, whom the court had ordered his retrial as well as hearing of all pending applications could not go on.

Slok’s counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN and Kalu’s lawyer had informed the court that the EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Jacob, SAN, served his response to their application which they served on him since October 2021, on Monday January 10, 2022.

Though, Ikoro and Uche expressed dismay over the way the EFCC lawyer decided to wait to serve his counter affidavit on Monday night, said they needed time to reply.

In view of the foregoing, the trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned with the consensus of parties to March 10, for 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 September 29, 2021, stopped the Federal Government from retrying Orji Uzor Kalu, over alleged N7.1 billion fraud.

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

It was the opinion of the court 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 also reasoned that it was only the former Commissioner of Finance in Abia Government House, Jones Udeogu, that could be re-tried as only his name was mentioned in the Supreme Court judgment.

A Federal High Court in Lagos, had found Kalu, Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Ltd guilty of embezzling state’s fund to the tune of N1.7 billion.

While the company was ordered to be shut by the federal government, Kalu and Udeogu were subsequently jailed for 12 years.

However, the Supreme Court in a judgement in Udeogu’s appeal had nullified the conviction and subsequent sentencing on the grounds that the trial judge had been promoted to the Court of Appeal and therefore should not have went ahead to deliver Judgment in the matter.

The apex court however ordered that the case be returned to the Federal High Court for trial to start afresh.

Following the judgment of the Supreme Court, the EFCC accordingly filed charges against the three defendants.



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