The Supreme Court has nullified the Federal High Court judgement that convicted and sentenced ex-Gov of Abia State, Orji Uzoh Kalu to 12years jail term.
In a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie, the Apex court held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Orji Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Mr. Jones Udeogu, a former Director of Finance in Abia State.
The Apex court in its ruling, held that Justice Mohammed Liman was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at the time he sat and delivered the judgement that convicted the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1billion from Abia state treasury.
According to the Supreme Court, Justice Liman, lacked the powers to sit as a High Court Judge, stating that the constitution does not permit a Judge elevated to a higher court to return to a lower court to conclude a case.
Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the lead judgment also declared as unconstitutional the provision of section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, on which the then President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa (retd), relied on to authorise Justice Idris to return to the Court of Appeal to conclude the trial.
Consequently, the Supreme Court nullified and vacated the judgement that convicted the defendants and ordered a fresh trial of the defendants.
It would be recalled that a Federal High Court in Lagos had on December 5, 2019, sentenced Orji Kalu, to 12 years’ imprisonment for N7.2 billion fraud and money laundering.
Orji Uzoh Kalu was charged alongside a former Commissioner for Finance, in the state Jones Udeogo, and his company, Slok Nig. Ltd.