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A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an application by the former governor of Abia State, and the current chief whip of the senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu seeking to challenge his re-trial in court.
Justice Inyang Ekwo on Monday also ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to put on hold the bid to re-arraign Kalu.
The judge gave Kalu seven days within which to file and serve on EFCC all processes meant to challenge the legality of the re-trial, while the case was adjourned to February 23 for mention.
Kalu is an All Progressive Congress (APC) senator representing Abia North, and the Chief Whip in the Senate.
The proposed re-arraignment is coming eight months after the Supreme Court on May 8, 2020 set aside the judgment of Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos, which convicted and sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment, having declared as unconstitutional the provision of Section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, on which Justice Idris relied on to return from his elevation at the Court of Appeal to conclude the trial.
However, Kalu’s re-arraignment, alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Ltd and former aide, Jones Udeogu stalled on Tuesday after the EFCC indicated it would transfer the case to Lagos division of the court, on the grounds that many elements of the alleged offence took place there.
Defence counsel, Awa Kalu (SAN) had pleaded with the court to allow the application challenging the re-trial in order to stop the lawmaker from suffering double jeopardy having already been tried and convicted on same charges.
“That there is no extant ruling or judgment of a competent court in Nigeria ordering the retrial of the Applicant (Kalu) having regard to the fact that the Supreme Court excluded the Applicant from the explicit order for retrial arising from Charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07 F.R.N. vs Orji Uzor Kalu & 2 Ors,” he said.
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