By Idowu Abdullahi,
The Supreme Court has voided the judgment and subsequent sentence of the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor-Kalu to twelve years imprisonment, thus ordering a fresh trial.
The Guild reports that a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had sentenced Kalu, who is also a serving senator to 12 years’ imprisonment for alleged N7.2 billion fraud and money laundering on December 5, 2019.
Kalu was charged alongside a former Abia state’s Commissioner for Finance, Jones Udeogo, and his company, Slok Nig. Ltd. He was arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and was convicted on all the thirty-nine counts preferred against him by the anti-graft agency.
While Kalu was sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment, Udeogo was convicted on thirty-four counts and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.
However, the apex court, in a unanimous on Friday by Justice Amina Augie-led seven-man panel, held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it tried and convicted Kalu, his firm – Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeogu.
The Supreme court panel later quashed the judgment and directed the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to assign the case to another judge of the court for the trial to begin afresh.
The panel held that Justice Mohammed Idris, who conducted the trial and sentenced Kalu, was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at the time he delivered the judgment, adding that having been elevated to the Court of Appeal, Justice Idris, lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge.