2023 Presidency: I See Hope In You, Uzodimma Tells Lawan

 

The Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma told the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday that he sees hope in him.

Governor Uzodimma made the remarks after Lawan addressed the All Progressives Congress(APC) leaders and delegates from the five Southeast states of Imo, Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu who converged at the party Secretariat in Owerri.

Uzodimma said it was clear that President Muhammadu Buhari would have to give recommendations and guidance on the succession plans but prayed that the President would see what some of them had seen.

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Governor Uzodimma said: “The party is aware that it is only our President, President Muhammadu Buhari who understands the demography and the character of the current national politics vis-a-vis the insecurity, economy and the public welfare and the party will also be guided by his recommendations in managing the succession plans.

“These delegates are still here. They have cried for a very long time against not given sufficient recognition and relevance to the people of Southeast.

“That is why I’m almost certain that they will not be influenced by money nor by any material influence. They will do that which will attract to our people the relevance and recognition nationally that we have been looking for, for a very long time.

“I have listened to you. Very brilliant ideology. I have also seen that you are highly detribalised and nationalistic. I think, in you, I can see hope.

“Therefore, I will recommend very highly that Mr President in his wisdom, guided by the spirit of God, will also see what some of us have seen.

“One assurance that you should take home is that, Northeast and Southeast are related by blood. Getting no-objection certificate from Mr President, we will not be stopped by anybody.

“So when you go home, greet our brothers and sisters. Before you came, our own brother, the Governor of Ebonyi came to address the delegates.

“And in doing so, he also recognised copiously the relationship between Northeast and Southeast to the extent that he even re-echoed that the two geo-political zones are the most marginalised in Nigeria.

“Therefore, whatever comes to Southeast is as good as it has gone to Northeast. And whatever goes to Northeast is as good as it has come to Southeast. We are with you.

“You are completely loyal to the leadership of our great Party, APC, under the command of President Muhammadu Buhari and I’m almost certain that our decision may likely be guided by his recommendations and counsel.”

Earlier, Lawan who described Uzodimma as the “Lion of the Southeast” said he had been a “major pillar in all my political journey since we started.

“He was at the forefront in 2015, you know he was a Senator, he wanted me to be Senate President. He worked so hard tirelessly.

“But today, to the Glory of God, this our brother, the Governor of Imo state, has worked so hard to also keep this campaign going. Actually, he presented my completed nomination form.”

 

The Senate President outlined his plans to the delegates if given the chance to fly the flag of his party the APC and if elected as President:

“For me, it is security first. Because you need to secure the people. Even for them to go to their farms or to go to their markets or to go about their local businesses, they need to be secured.

“This is a challenge that this administration has been working so hard to ensure that every citizen is secured.

“I am coming from the Northeast. Coming from Yobe State. We were under the domination of Boko Haram between 2014 and 2015, before President Muhammadu Buhari took office.

“Today we are far safer. Most of the insurgents are coming out to surrender with their families. Their leaders have been killed.

“Of course, before President Muhammadu Buhari took over, about 15 or 16 of our Local Governments in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa were under the full control of Boko Haram. But we still have challenges.

“That is a success story for our administration. That is the kind of story we want repeated in all parts of Nigeria. We are battling so hard in the Northwest and some parts of the Northcentral with the bandits and kidnappers and of course in the south particularly the Southeast which is a recent development.

“The Southeast is supposed to be our South Korea. It’s supposed to be our Japan. It’s supposed to be our America in Nigeria. Very ingenious people. Very enterprising people.

“And therefore, we must never allow our past history, history told by colonialists….we are the same people because whether you are coming from the North or From the South or the East or the West, you are a Nigerian.

“And as a Nigerian, you will pray and work that every Nigerian in every part of Nigeria succeeds and be in peace because what happens here in Owerri affects me in Yobe and what happens in Yobe affects you here.

“So I believe that given the opportunity, and we are already doing something, we must have a national integration policy. National cohesion.

“What does that mean? It is for us to ensure that there is fairness and access to social, economic and political opportunities. This is one way to go because most of the time, the crisis, the conflict is about the resource distribution, opportunity that is available to everyone.

“But I believe that we must continue to work for national integration to give everyone a sense of belonging. If you are a business man you should excel in any part of Nigeria you chose to be.

“Secondly, having secured our nation, we must continue to work for the improvement in our economy. Our economy is already the largest in Africa and that is a feat. We have been able to succeed to maintain the number one position despite two years of COVID 19 that we suffered.

“One thing is that we need to improve to make this economy more productive and more inclusive. That is to say that those at the highest level should not enjoy at the expense of those at the lowest part of the ladder.

“That is to say if you are a small trader, you should have some support. You already have some support, the empowerment programmes by the present administration.

“But what we need to do is to ensure that in areas like the Southeast, where majority of people are business oriented, the Small and Medium Scales Enterprises, will have to be supported. Once everybody has something to do, nobody will like to call for any trouble.

“So I want to make that my mission, that employment opportunities must come through support to SMEs.

“I want to see a situation where our women will continue to play a dominant role but I’m particularly also concerned about our youth, I believe to transform Nigeria, you have to transform our youth. Take them off the streets. Take them to schools.

“We must invest in our education. We have to introduce entrepreneurship development courses so that those who are not able to go to tertiary Institutions should be useful in one trade or the other.

“I want to assure you that a vote for me is a vote for progress in Nigeria, for stability in Nigeria, for prosperity in our country.”

 

A day earlier, the Senate President told APC delegates from Niger State that he has all it takes to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari whose tenure comes to an end in May 2023.

“I am equipped. I have experience enough, I have what it takes to be Nigerian President after President Muhammadu Buhari leaves office,” Lawan stated at Minna in Niger state.

Lawan and his campaign team met the State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, the delegates to the upcoming APC Presidential primaries and later paid homage to the Emir of Minna, Dr Umar Farouq Bahago.

The lawmaker solicited the votes of the delegates against the background of what he has to offer, his vast experience in governance and the stability that he brought to the parliament.

“For the last three years, I have been the Senate President. I have been able to work very well with all my colleagues regardless of their political parties.

“We have been able to make the Senate very stable, peaceful and very productive and today, we have been able to make so many laws because we are at peace.
“It is that type of stability, that type of peace, that kind of unity that I want to bring into the Villa by the Grace of God next year.

“I am running for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because of what I believe in. For me, mandate is service.

“Having served in the Legislature and having been working with Mr President as the Senate President, I therefore get close to governance, a very good participant in governance at the national level.

“I am equipped. I have experience enough, I have what it takes to be Nigerian President after President Muhammadu Buhari leaves office.

“At my age, and I’m a very young man. I’m only 63 years, in between the old and the new. I believe that I can carry the young. And the young is the centre piece of my policy.

“But first let me tell you what I want to do for us. Security. We all know that Niger state has been at the receiving end of insecurity and I know how hard our friend, our Governor has been working to secure the lives of the people of this state.

“The Federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has been doing a lot. We have conquered the Boko Haram in the north east. But we still have challenges in the northwest, in this part of north central.

“It is my intention to continue to work with our President to fight insecurity in every part of Nigeria until he finishes his tenure by the Grace of God on the 29th May, 2023.

“It is my intention to start to serve as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to build on the succeses that our President would achieve when he will leave office.

“I believe that we need to consider the architecture of our security system. I believe in citizens participation in security. You and I, report what you see to the relevant authourities.They say if you see something, say something. If you see bandits, inform the appropriate authourities.

“I want to see a situation where citizens who volunteer information are protected. I want to see a situation where our traditional rulers, the traditional Institutions play a role in securing our communities. They use to do it before. We can bring them back to do it. There is nothing more important to us today in Nigeria than security. That will be my priority.

“I also want to build on the successes of President Muhammadu Buhari on the economy of Nigeria. I believe that it is still not yet what we want but we are better than many countries.

“Finally, Niger state is an Agricultural state. I want a situation where at least every geo-political zone will have one crop that will be nurtured for production, for processing and for marketing.

“That is to say that it is not enough for us in Niger state to produce yam only. We should produce the yam, process the yam and sell with a higher value.I believe that this is one way to deal with the youth unemployment,” Lawan said.

In his response, Governor Sani Bello thanked the Senate President and his team for the visit.

“I think he has laid out his plans for Niger state for you delegates to consider. So that you give him your mandate to represent our party at the next presidential election.

“I don’t need to say much. You all heard when he started. He has been in the National Assembly since 1999. I don’t think anyone has broken that record yet in Nigeria,” Governor Bello said.

The Senate President was accompanied on the trip from Abuja by former Governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, Senator Mohammed Sani Musa, Ambassador Sam Nkire, Navy Commodore Mohammed Barau, mni and Engineer Isa Ahmed.

Umahi, Kalu Declare Interest In 2023 Presidential Race

This photo combination created on January 11, 2022, shows Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
This photo combination created on January 11, 2022, shows Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

 

The race to clinch the All Progressives Congress’ presidential ticket for 2023 became more competitive on Tuesday after Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi and Senator Orji Kalu publicly declared their ambitions.

Their declarations came barely 24 hours after APC chieftain and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, indicated his interest to become Nigeria’s next President.

Governor Umahi declared his intention at a State House press briefing after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

Umahi said his presidency will replicate his progressive efforts in Ebonyi at the national level.

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He said he intends to bring a business-like spirit into governance.

According to him, President Buhari responded to his interest by asking him to seek the support of the people.

South-East ticket

In his declaration, Senator Kalu said while he has nothing against the aspiration of Mr Tinubu, he believes that the South-East is ripe for the Presidency and that it should be the turn of the region to produce the next President.

“I do not see Tinubu’s aspiration having any effect on the President of Nigeria coming from the Igbo area. Because we are talking based on what Nigeria should be. We are talking based on what people should believe. Obasanjo has been President for eight years. Osinbajo is doing eight years as Vice President. And no Igbo man since independence has been a democratically elected President. So it is always good to think of what is reasonable and what will be more sellable.

 

“I’m the most prepared Presidential candidate in Nigeria. I’m capable healthwise, I’m capable as a person, I’m capable in my pocket. I’m capable to face anybody. But the party is supreme. I only wait for APC as a party.

“For me, contesting for President is not the issue. The issue is who is going to lead the country into an economic miracle, into a turnaround. I’m not against Tinubu. If it’s zoned to his area and the party said he should go. Well, the party is supreme. I’m only waiting for the party.”

Umahi’s conviction

After his State House briefing, Governor Umahi appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today to provide further insights into his presidential ambition.

“I feel within me that the country is passing through a phase and I believe strongly that the miracles that God helped us to do in Ebonyi State by the reason of all the successes we made in all the economic indices and all our programmes, that if given the opportunity, we can replicate it at the national level,” he said.

 

He explained that his closeness with President Buhari has given him a clear understanding of the President’s intentions and goodwill for the country and he intends to continue from where he stops come 2023.

“This is my conviction and that we can also build from where Mr President would stop,” Umahi said. “I am also close to Mr President, I know his heartbeat for the country and I know what he desires for this country so I think that I understand his programmes and his policies and his integrity, coupled with what we have done in Ebonyi State and it can add and help the country.”

Orji Kalu Wants Account Unfreezed, Name Removed From N7.1bn Fraud Charge Sheet

A photo collage of Orji Kalu and a court gave

 

Former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, has filed an application at the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to unfreeze his bank account.

He is also seeking an order of the court to strike out his name and that of his company, Slok Nigeria Limited from the N7.1 billion charge levelled against him by the anti-graft agency.

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Kalu’s lawyer, Ikoro Ikoro said the application was based on the judgement of Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, delivered on September 29, 2021, which barred the Federal Government from retrying the former governor.

Kalu, who is the Chief Whip of the Senate and the lawmaker representing Abia North Senatorial District, submitted that having been freed, it behoves on him to apply to the court to formally strike out his name and Slok from the charge sheet.

More to follow…

Court Prohibits FG From Retrying Orji Kalu Over Alleged N7.1bn Fraud

 

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja has barred the Federal Government from retrying the former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, on the N7.1billion money laundering charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) earlier preferred against him.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, the court held that the Supreme Court did not in the verdict it gave on May 8, 2020, order the retrial of either Kalu or his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited.

Justice Ekwo held that the Supreme Court only ordered the retrial of former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu, who was the appellant before it.

Consequently, Justice Ekwo upheld a suit that Kalu filed to challenge the legal propriety of his planned re-arraignment by the EFCC.

In the application filed through his lawyers led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Awa Kalu, the former governor argued that allowing the EFCC to try him afresh on the charge and same facts upon which he was earlier convicted and sentenced on December 5, 2019, would occasion him to suffer a “double jeopardy”.

He said, “The unassailable position of the law is that no person who shows that he has been tried by any court of competent jurisdiction or tribunal for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence having the same ingredients as that offence, save upon the order or a competent Court.”

Giving reasons why his trial should not commence de-novo (afresh), Kalu, said he was convicted and sentenced by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos with respect to the charge against him.

Justice Idris had sentenced Kalu to 12 years imprisonment in his judgement delivered on December 5, 2019.

However, the Supreme Court nullified the judgement in May 2020 following an appeal by Kalu.

In a unanimous verdict on the appeal delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, the Supreme Court declared the conviction null and void.

Justice Eko explained that the declaration was on the ground that Justice Mohammed Idris was already a Justice of the Court of Appeal at the time he delivered the judgement.

He held that a Justice of the Court of Appeal cannot operate as a judge of the Federal High Court.

Kalu, who was governor of Abia State from 1999 to 2007, is currently the Chief Whip of the Senate.

EFCC To Prosecute Orji Kalu All Over Again – Bawa

Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa has said former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu will be prosecuted by the agency all over again.

The anti-graft agency boss also said he is not perturbed over the threats to his life and he is determined to prosecute the many pending cases under trial.

Bawa disclosed this on Thursday while addressing journalists during the weekly ministerial chat at the State House in Abuja.

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He gave insight into ongoing prosecutions, challenges, and increasing cases of financial crimes since his assumption into office 100 days ago.

He also clarified reports accredited to him concerning the involvement of a Minister in the laundering of about $37 million into real estate. He disclosed that he simply made reference to an old case involving a former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Madueke.

The EFCC Chairman further disclosed that since his first 100 days in office, the agency has been working on a number of proactive strategies including a special control unit against money laundering, established particularly to address non-designated financial institutions including car dealers, real estate, jewellery dealers, among others.

Bawa said he is confident that when the unit is fully established, corruption will significantly decline in the country.

He then added that the agency is equally working towards the development of a biometric ownership database to address money laundering.

According to him, most proceeds of crime are laundered through real estate and have become a huge challenge. He gives examples of property acquired especially in Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt where billions of naira are laundered through this means.

He, however, declined to disclose actual perpetrators or the properties involved.

He revealed that since his assumption, a number of recoveries have been made including N6billion, $161million, £13,000 pounds, €1,730 among others.

Internet fraudsters numbering 1,502 have also been apprehended between January to June 2021and efforts are underway to file about 800 of them. A hundred cases will be filed in court.

There Is An Attempt At Sabotaging Buhari’s Presidency – Senator Orji Kalu

A file photo of former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu

 

Amid the myriads of security challenges in the country, the Senate Minority Leader and senator representing Abia North in the National Assembly, Orji Uzor Kalu, has raised an alarm over an attempt at sabotaging the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television on Monday said the Federal Government is not responding as it should.

Kalu, who was also ex-governor of Abia State, called on the Federal Government to collaborate more with governors in nipping in the bud the various security challenges in the country.

“Anywhere you have no police to police the society, it means the society is failed because the major job of a government is to protect lives and properties of the citizens. Once that kind of aspect fails, we are in trouble,” he said.

“I believe there is sabotage to the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. A lot of sabotage, things are on duty to sabotage him, the society.

“The Federal Government should cooperate with the state governments. We have done well as a party in many areas but security is key and we need to address this issue, come together.”

On the way forward, he asked President Buhari to tackle the numerous security challenges in the country to convey a security summit with the service chiefs, governors, selected ex-governors and former military personnel.

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Fixes April 20 To Hear Kalu’s Suit Against EFCC

File photo of ex-Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu in court.

 

Hearing in the suit by former Governor of Abia State and Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Kalu seeking to stop his retrial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on same alleged money laundering charges has been adjourned to April 20.

The adjournment is predicated on the fact the EFCC, which is listed as the first defendant in the suit, was not properly served with the originating summons.

At the resumed hearing of the suit, Rotimi Jacobs who announced appearance for the Commission on protest drew the attention of the court to the fact that the originating summons was served on his chambers instead of the EFCC.

He told Justice Inyang Ekwo that he was yet to be briefed by the anti-graft agency as its counsel and it would amount to professional misconduct to accept processes on the matter.

In his response, Professor Awa Kalu who appeared for Senator Kalu said he has no problem serving the EFCC with the originating summons.

Justice Ekwo accordingly adjourned the case to April 20 for hearing and directed the applicant to serve the EFCC within seven days.

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The court had on February 8, 2021, granted leave to Senator Kalu to challenge his retrial by the EFCC on the same charges upon which he was sentenced and convicted.

Justice Inyang Ekwo thereafter, ordered that the planned re-arraignment of Senator Kalu in the alleged ₦7.1billion money-laundering charges be put on hold until the resolution of the legal questions raised against his retrial.

In a motion exparte argued by his counsel, Senator Kalu 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 the on same charges a Federal High court presided over by Justice M.B. Idris, it will amount to double jeopardy if he is subjected to a fresh trial on the same charges.

Justice Ekwo in his ruling, granted leave to Senator Kalu to seek an order prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the EFCC (her agent), her officers, servants, others, agents, privies and any other person or bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying him on charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & 2 ors or any other charge based on the same facts de novo, there being no extant judgment and ruling of a competent court in Nigeria mandating same.

An order prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the EFCC (her agent), her officers, servants, others, agents, privies and any other person or bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying, harassing and intimidating him with respect to the charge as it concerns charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & 2 ors or any other charge based on same facts as he need not suffer double jeopardy.

The court further ordered that the leave should operate as a stay of proceedings until the determination of the application.

Justice Ekwo in his ruling held that the applicant who is fully clothed with the locus standi has placed sufficient materials in his supporting affidavits to warrant the court to exercise its discretion in his favor.

“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 to 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 offence and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence having the same ingredients as that offence save upon the order of a competent court.”

In his supporting affidavit deposed in support of his motion, Senator Kalu chronicled the historical background of the trial from his first arraignment and re-arraignment in 2016 and 2017, before the Abuja division of the Federal High Court after the initial charges were amended by the EFCC.

He further narrated how his application to quash the charges was not granted by both the trial court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Kalu told the court that following an application by the EFCC, to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, the charge was transferred to the Lagos division of the court and was assigned to Justice M.B. Idris now a Justice of the Court of Appeal.

Upon the transfer of the charge to Lagos, he bore the cost of movement of his entire legal team from Abuja to Lagos including the cost of accommodation up till judgment.

Senator Kalu disclosed that at the trial, the prosecution called a total of 19 witnesses and thereafter, closed it’s case, necessitating him together with other defendants to enter individually and respectively a no case submission.

He stated how midway through the trial, Justice Idris was elevated to the Court of Appeal as a Justice of the Court and subsequently took the oath of office and subscribed to the oath of Allegiance on June 22, 2018 and lost his position as a Judge of the Federal High Court.

The applicant also narrated how by a Fiat dated July 2, 2018, issued under the hand of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Idris was directed to return to the Federal High Court to conclude the trial, then part-heard in charge no: FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007, between FRN vs Orji Kalu and 2 others.

That in his judgment on December 5, 2019, Justice Idris convicted and sentenced him with respect to the extant charge.

Don’t Use COVID-19 As Pretext Not To Provide Basic Infrastructure – Wike

File photo of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, says no government should use COVID-19 as an excuse not to invest in infrastructural development that can foster economic development and prosperity.

Governor Wike made this assertion during a facility tour of the ultramodern Government House hospital and Administrative building in Port Harcourt by the Senate Chief Whip and former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

He said Rivers State will not join the league of States that hide under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic to deny their people basic infrastructure like roads which is universally acknowledged as a major contributor to higher economic productivity, growth, and trade.

“Covid-19 cannot be an excuse to any government. COVID -19 is a bad thing, but it has come. It will go whether we like it or not. But people will also be alive. Infrastructure must be provided, so you can’t say because of COVID 19 nothing will be done. At the time COVID 19 ends, what will the people be facing? Lack of basic infrastructure. So, because of COVID19, I am not going to be doing anything? I am not a party to that. I will continue to work whether there is COVID-19 or not.”

Governor Wike explained his administration has conscientiously been investing in high-quality infrastructure that has positive economic value that can stimulate job creation, boost foreign direct investment in the State.

He stated that in the midst of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the State government on Wednesday approved two additional flyovers at the cost of N 12.4 billion to Julius Berger.

According to him, investment in these projects have been made possible because of the government’s judicious application of State resources to meet the pressing needs of the people.

“You manage whatever you have for the interest of the people. Infrastructure brings investments. Part of the problem we have in this country today is the decay of infrastructure. We don’t have it and that also affects investment inflow.

“So, when these roads are there, you will see people will come in. You don’t expect a private investor to begin to do road for you. It is not possible.

“You want to do agriculture, there is no road. How can we do agriculture when there is no road. How will the product be brought to the city, to the market? So, you must provide this basic infrastructure for investment inflow and that is what we are doing.”

READ ALSO: Incompetence Worsening Insecurity, Says Wike

Governor Wike applauded Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for visiting Rivers State to assess what his administration is doing to improve the quality of life of the people.

He said such bipartisan collaboration is required for the country to move forward.

Senator Kalu after inspection of the Government House hospital and Administrative Building, said Governor Wike’s deliberate investment in crucial infrastructural is commendable.

“All the facilities I have seen here are first class. This is what I can’t even see in Europe. The hospital I have seen, the doctors’ room, the conference centre is something else. I must commend Governor Wike. You see I am a bipartisan person. We need to commend anybody who has done a good job. He is PDP, I am APC.”

The Senate Chief Whip implored the Federal, State, and Local authorities to urgently consider it worthwhile to emulate the Rivers State government by investing in ultramodern hospitals like the one built by the Wike’s administration. According to him, this will help to curtail the huge foreign exchange expended on medical tourism.

“I advise every other State governor or the local authorities and national authorities to build hospitals like this. If you know how much we spend on medical tourism, you will pity this country.”

He further added: “We are not talking about the party, I am talking about conscience and what I have seen. This is fantastic. I have never seen any private hospital in Nigeria or government-owned hospital as I have seen in Government House.”

Court Places Re-Arraignment Of Senator Orji Kalu On Hold

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the re-arraignment of former Abia State Governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu in an alleged seven point one billion naira (N7.1bn) money-laundering charges be put on hold pending the resolution of the legality of the retrial charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Inyang Ekwo in a ruling on an ex-parte application also granted leave to the Senator representing Abia north, to challenge the legality of the retrial in the same charges.

The judge admitted that Senator Kalu who is the Senate Chief Whip had placed sufficient materials of value before the court to enable him to secure permission for judicial review of his retrial in charges in which he had been tried, convicted, and spent some months at Kuje prison in Abuja.

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Justice Ekwo who announced that the order of the court shall operate as a stay of proceedings also granted senator Kalu permission to apply for an order of perpetual injunction against the federal government through EFCC to prohibit his retrial so as not to be made to suffer double jeopardy.

The court consequently fixed February 23, 2021, for mention.

Orji Kalu In Court For Arraignment On Fraud Allegations

Screenshot from the video showing Senator Orji Uzor Kalu inside the courtroom for his arraignment on Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

 

Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu was at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.

The ex-governor was arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo on money laundering related charges.

It will be recalled that Senator Kalu, who was the governor of Abia State from 1999 to 2007, was earlier found guilty and handed a 12-year jail term by the Lagos Division of the court.

The trial court convicted him alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and a former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu, for allegedly stealing about N7.1billion from the state treasury.

READ ALSO: EFCC Arraigns P&ID Commerical Director For Money Laundering

However, in a unanimous judgment by a seven-man panel of the Supreme Court, delivered on May 8th, 2020, the Apex Court nullified the entire proceedings that led to Senator Kalu’s conviction, stressing that the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, was already elevated to the court of appeal, as at the time he sat and delivered judgement against the defendants.

It noted that Justice Idris was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as of December 5, 2019, the day the former governor and his co-defendants were found guilty of the money laundering charge against them.

The apex court ordered a retrial of the defendants.

Kalu Seeks Tenure Extension For APC Caretaker Committee

A file photo of APC Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.

 

The Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, has urged the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to extend the tenure of the Governor Mai Mala Buni led Caretaker Committee of the party to March 2021.

He made the request to the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) in a statement by his spokesperson, Kunle Oyewumi, on Monday.

Kalu, who is a former governor of Abia State, believes there is no need for a ‘fire brigade approach’ on the proposed convention scheduled for December.

“It is with deep patriotic concerns and the future growth of our great party that I am appealing to the National Executive Council to consider extending the tenure of Governor Mai Mala Buni led APC Caretaker Committee to March 2021, against the December proposed period.

“This is to give the caretaker committee members the needed time to put things in order and hand over properly to new leadership in the end,” he said.

A file photo of Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

 

The lawmaker stressed the importance of winning the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State, saying it was paramount to the party at the moment.

He was worried that the caretaker committee was not offering its best due to time constraints, adding that majority of the participants would be very busy with their national tasks during the December proposed period.

Kalu noted that lawmakers in the National Assembly and ministers would also be focused on budget preparation and defence and would not be in a better position to offer their best to the party.

He said, “I don’t see any need of fire brigade approach for them to hand over to new leadership by December.

“The committee is expected to focus their attention on Edo State because the Edo State election will determine the strength of any new leadership.”

According to the former governor, holding the convention in December will also not give the party the desired results needed.

He stated that some of the ministers would also need to travel to their wards and make adequate preparations for the party’s congress.

‘Evidences Against Kalu Are Overwhelming’: EFCC Reacts To Supreme Court Verdict

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reacted to the judgment of the Supreme Court which nullified the conviction of former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu.

In a statement on Friday by its Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, the anti-graft agency noted that the apex court did not acquit the former governor of the charges against him.

Earlier, a seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour nullified the conviction of Senator Kalu and Ude Udeogu, a former Director of Finance and Account at the Abia State Government House.

Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the lead judgment, held that the Federal High Court in Lagos which tried and convicted the former governor and his aide, as well as his firm – Slok Nigeria Limited, acted without jurisdiction.

He noted that Justice Mohammed Idris who sentenced them was already a Justice of the Court of Appeal, as at that time.

READ ALSO: Supreme Court Nullifies Orji Uzor Kalu’s Conviction

The Supreme Court Justice added that a Justice of the Court of Appeal cannot operate as a judge of the Federal High Court.

According to him, the 1999 Constitution does not permit a judge elevated to a higher court to return to a lower court to conclude a trial he began.

The seven-man panel unanimously set aside the judgement that convicted the defendants and ordered a fresh trial of the defendants by another judge.

Justice Idris had convicted and sentenced Senator Kalu to 12 years imprisonment, and Mr Udeogu to 10 years imprisonment in his judgement delivered in December 2019.

In its reaction, the EFFC described the judgment of the apex court as ‘a technical ambush’ against Kalu’s trial.

It, however, stressed that it was prepared for another trial of the case as its evidences against the former governor and his co-defendants were overwhelming.

Read the statement from the anti-graft agency below:

Orji Kalu: EFCC SET FOR FRESH, IMMEDIATE RE-TRIAL

The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been drawn to the judgment of the Supreme Court nullifying the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Jones Udeogu, a former Director of Finance and Account of Abia State Government and ordering their fresh trial at the lower court.

The apex court based its verdict on the grounds that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted Kalu and others had been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the judgment and returned to the lower court to deliver the judgment which it considered as illegal.

The EFCC considers the judgment of the apex court as quite unfortunate. It is a technical ambush against the trial of the former governor.

The Commission is prepared for a fresh and immediate trial of the case because its evidences against Kalu and others are overwhelming.

The corruption charges against Kalu still subsist because the Supreme Court did not acquit him of them.

The entire prosecutorial machinery of the EFCC would be launched in a fresh trial where justice is bound to be served in due course.

Dele Oyewale

Head, Media & Publicity

08/05/2020.