Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja today, Monday, February 8, temporary halted the re-trial of former Abia State Governor, and a Senate chief whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, on alleged fraud charges.
Justice Ekwo temporarily halted the re-trial while delivering ruling in an application by Kalu seeking leave to file a motion against his re-trial for alleged fraud committed when he served as a governor of Abia State between 1999 and 2007.
Recall that Orji Kalu was last year, sentenced to 12 years imprisonment after he was convicted of misappropriating the sum of N7.1 billion belonging to Abia State.
He had already spent about six months in custody of the Correctional Services when the apex court voided his conviction and sentencing on the grounds that the trial judge having been elevated to the Court of Appeal erred in law to pass judgment on the matter.
The apex court, in its ruling in the appeal by Kalu’s co-defendant, Jones Udeogu, consequently ordered a fresh trial of the appellant.
Following the ruling of the Supreme Court, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) initiated a fresh charge against the defendants to which he is currently objecting to.
Meanwhile, Kalu, in the application for leave to file a suit against his re-trial by the EFCC, claimed his re-trial will amount to double jeopardy if allowed to go on.
Ruling in the application on Monday, Justice Ekwo held that the application of Kalu is meritorious and subsequently granted him leave to challenge his re-trial.
The judge granted Kalu leave to apply for an order prohibiting the Federal Government through the EFCC or any of its agents from re-trying him for the same offence he was found guilty and convicted for.
Justice Ekwo also permitted the senator representing Abia North Senatorial District to apply for an order restraining the government from harassing and or arresting the applicant in respect of the same offences which he had been convicted and sentenced.
In addition, Ekwo held that the order granting leave to Kalu to file the suit against the government shall operate as a stay of his trial which was scheduled to commence last week with his arraignment.
He also ordered the applicant to serve the court’s ruling and necessary court papers on the defendants, adding that parties in the suit should file all necessary processes.
The substantive matter was adjourned till February 23, 2021 for mention.