From Segun Amure, (The New Diplomat’s Abuja Bureau)
A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday temporarily stopped the retrial of former Abia State Governor, Senator Orji Kalu, over the alleged corruption charges brought against him.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court ordered that the planned re-arraignment of the Orji Kalu over the alleged N7.1 billion money laundering scam be put on hold until the resolution of the legal questions raised against his retrial.
Recall the Supreme Court had in May 2020 quashed the judgement that convicted and sentenced Kalu to 12 years imprisonment over alleged corruption, however, the EFCC again filed charges bordering on money laundering against him.
But Justice Ekwo temporarily stayed 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 governor of Abia between 1999 and 2007.
Justice Ekwo also granted leave to the senator to challenge the legality of the retrial on the same charge.
The judge agreed that the former Abia governor had placed sufficient materials of value before the court to enable him secure permission for judicial review of his retrial on charges which he had been tried, convicted and spent some months in prison.
Ekwo held that: “Leave is at the discretion of the court under order 34(2) of the Federal High Court.
“In granting leave, there must be sufficient material fact placed before the court by the applicant to enable it exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously.
“The averments in the affidavit in support of the motion are about the applicant who has demonstrated sufficient interest to cloth him with a locus standi to bring the action.
“By section 34 (9) of the Constitution, no person who shows that he has been tried by any court of competent jurisdiction or tribunal for a criminal and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence having the same ingredients as that offence serve upon the order of a competent court.”
However, Sen. Kalu in a motion exparte, which was moved and argued by his counsel, Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), asked for an order of Court prohibiting the EFCC from retrying him on the same alleged money laundering charges against him.
He contended that having been tried, convicted and sentenced for the same charges in: FHC/ABJ/CR/56/ 2007, by Justice M.B. Idris, it will amount to double jeopardy if it he’s subjected to a fresh trial on the same charge.
In his ex-parte motion, Kalu asked that if his application was granted, it should serve as a stay of proceedings until the determination of the application or until the judge otherwise orders.
Furthermore, the court gave Kalu seven days to file and serve his process on the EFCC and adjourned the case to February 23 for mention.