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.

READ ALSO: 2023: Only God Can Tell Who Will Become Nigeria’s President – Transport Minister

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.

Orji Kalu Seeks Post Conviction Bail On Health Grounds

File Photo

 

The former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu has filed an application for bail pending his appeal against his jail sentence.

Mr Kalu through his counsel is making the application based on health grounds, which he says the medical facilities in the prison cannot handle.

He also informed the court of his role as chief whip of the senate, which he says the interests of his constituents would be in jeopardy if he was kept behind bars.

The Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos had on December 5, 2019, jailed Mr Kalu for 12 years after finding him guilty of N7.56 billion fraud.

Slim Nigeria Ltd, Mr kalu’s company was wound up and the assets forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

His aide, Mr Jones Udeogu who was the Director of Finance in the Abia state government house was also sentenced to a five-year jail term.

READ ALSO: Bill Seeking Six-Year Single Term For President, Govs Fails

In an amended 39 count, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC accused them of conspiring and diverting N7.65bn from the coffers of the state.

The presiding judge, Mohammed Idris described money laundering offence as a crime against humanity.

However, the EFCC opposed the bail on the ground that bail is for accused persons on the presumption of innocence, but that since he had been convicted, he could no longer enjoy such privilege.

The presiding judge, Mohammed Liman adjourned till December 23, 2019, for a ruling.

Sun Newspaper Distances Self From Legal Battle Between EFCC And Orji Kalu

 

The management of the Sun newspaper has condemned the actions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who on Saturday marked the publication’s corporate headquarters in Lagos linked to former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu.

The EFCC said the marking was to ensure that the properties were not dissipated, following the December 5, 2019 order of Justice Muhammed Idris sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, that Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, be wound up and all assets forfeited to the Federal Government.

RELATED: EFCC Marks Orji Kalu’s Properties For Seizure

The newspaper, in a statement, distanced itself from the legal battle between Mr. Kalu and the EFCC, stressing that a Notice of Appeal and Motion for Stay of Execution were duly served on EFCC by the bailiffs of the court.

Read the full statement below:

“PRESS STATEMENT

EFCC VISIT TO THE SUN OFFICE WITH ARMED POLICEMEN: OUR STAND

Three officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with four heavily armed policemen on Saturday, December 14, 2019, at about 10.00 am, arrived the corporate headquarters of The Sun Publishing Limited at 2, Coscharis Street, Kirikiri Industrial Layout, Apapa, Lagos and put up a notice for staff and the general public to keep off the premises. The EFCC officials, who   came in a white Toyota bus with registration number, ABUJA BWR-644GA, wrote on The Sun’s fence, “EFCC, keep off.”  They also advised our staff to collect their personal belongings from the office as they will come back to seal the premises completely.

We do not understand the legal basis for this EFCC action. It is on record that there is a pending appeal at the Supreme Court with Suit No: SC/546/2018 wherein The Sun Publishing Limited appealed against the Judgement delivered by the Court of Appeal on the interim forfeiture order made against it by a Federal High Court in 2007 based on ex parte proceeding. The Notice of Appeal and Motion for Stay of Execution were duly served on EFCC by the bailiffs of the Court.

It is also pertinent to state that EFCC vide a letter written by Counsel to The Sun Publishing Limited, dated 22nd May 2018 and duly received by one Caleb Peter on behalf of Rotimi Jacobs & Co. was further put on notice of the pending appeal at the Supreme Court and advised to stay action in the matter pending the hearing of the Motion for Stay of execution and the appeal.

Again,  it is instructive to state that The Sun Publishing Limited was not a party to the case of EFCC vs. Orji Uzor Kalu & 2 Others, so we do not see why the Judgment, in that case, should lead to attempt to seal The Sun Publishing Limited premises.

Furthermore, we are aware that both Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and Slok Nig Limited have since appealed the Judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Idris and a hearing date given.

We wish to reiterate that The Sun Publishing Limited is an ongoing corporate limited liability company and its shares are owned by various individuals distinct from Senator Orji Uzor Kalu. Therefore, the recent Judgment against Senator Orji Uzor Kalu should not be used to disturb the operations of the company and the proprietary rights of its innocent shareholders until the matters are dispensed with at the Supreme Court.

In view of the foregoing, we call and appeal to the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice to urgently intervene and advise EFCC appropriately on the legal consequences of its actions.

Management,

The Sun Publishing Limited

December 14, 2019″

 

Orji Kalu Bags 12 Years Imprisonment Over Fraud

PHOTO: Orji Uzor Kalu at court premises on Thursday, December 5, 2019.

 

Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos has sentenced former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, to 12 years’ imprisonment.

This was after the court found Kalu, and two others guilty of N7.65billion fraud.

Mr Kalu’s co-defendants are his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Mr Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor.

In an amended 39 counts, the EFCC accused them of conspiring and diverting N7.65bn from the coffers of the state.

READ ALSO: Court Finds Orji Uzor Kalu Guilty Of N7.65bn Fraud

In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Mr Kalu, who was Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007, procured Slok Nigeria Limited – a company solely owned by him and members of his family – to retain its account, domiciled with the then Inland Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos, an aggregate sum of N7,197,871,208.7

The prosecution claimed that the sum N7.1billion formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government and therefore violating Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.

Apart from the N7.1billion, the ex-governor and the other defendants were also accused of receiving a total of N460million allegedly stolen from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.

The prosecutor said they breached Section 427 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all counts.

During the trial, the prosecution called 19 witnesses while the defendants testified on behalf of themselves.

See more photos below…

Court Finds Orji Uzor Kalu Guilty Of N7.65bn Fraud

A file photo of Senator Orji Kalu.

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos has found the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others guilty of N7.65billion fraud.

Mr Kalu’s co-defendants are his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Mr Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor.

In an amended 39 counts, the EFCC accused them of conspiring and diverting N7.65bn from the coffers of the state.

In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Mr Kalu, who was Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007, procured Slok Nigeria Limited – a company solely owned by him and members of his family – to retain its account, domiciled with the then Inland Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos, an aggregate sum of N7,197,871,208.7

The prosecution claimed that the sum N7.1bn formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government and therefore violating Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.

Apart from the N7.1bn, the ex-governor and the other defendants were also accused of receiving a total of N460million allegedly stolen from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.

The prosecution called 19 witnesses.

Justice Mohammed Idris thereafter sentenced Kalu to 12 years imprisonment.

Alleged N7.65bn Fraud: Orji Kalu To Know Fate In December

A file photo of Senator Orji Kalu.

 

 

The Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos is set to deliver judgment in an alleged fraud case of N7.65 billion against a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others.

In a ruling on Tuesday, Justice Mohammed Idris fixed December 2 for judgment after parties in the case adopted their written addresses and made their final arguments, 12 years after trial initially commenced.

In its final arguments, the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Rotimi Jacobs, asked the judge to jail the defendants as the prosecution had proved the allegations against them.

Jacobs, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), also told the court that contrary to Senator Kalu’s statement that Abia did not have as much as N7 billion during his administration, information from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation revealed that total allocation to the state when the lawmaker was governor was N137 billion.

The defence counsels, on their part, asked the court to dismiss the charges, acquit and discharge their clients.

They insisted that the prosecution failed to prove its case against them.

After listening to all the parties, Justice Idris fixed December 2 for judgment.

READ ALSO: Tribunal Nullifies Orji Kalu’s Election, Orders Fresh Poll

Senator Kalu, his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor, are standing trial on an amended 39-count brought against them by the EFCC.

The anti-graft agency accused them of conspiring and diverting N7.65 billion from the coffers of the state.

In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Kalu, who was Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007, “did procure Slok Nigeria Limited – a company solely owned by you and members of your family – to retain in its account, domiciled with the then Inland Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos, an aggregate sum of N7,197,871,208.7 on your behalf.”

The prosecution claimed that the money “formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government and which was converted into several bank drafts before they were paid into the said company’s account.”

Mr Jacobs said the offences were contrary to Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and punishable under Section 16 of the same Act.

Apart from the N7.1bn, which he was accused of laundering, the former governor and the other defendants were also accused of receiving a total of N460 million allegedly stolen from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.

The prosecutor said they breached Section 427 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

However, the defendants all pleaded not guilty.

In an attempt to prove the allegations, the prosecution called a total of 19 witnesses while the defendants testified on behalf of themselves.

Tribunal Nullifies Orji Kalu’s Election, Orders Fresh Poll

 

A tribunal sitting in Umuahia the Abia State capital, has ordered a rerun of the election between Senator Orji Uzor Kalu representing Abia North senatorial district and Mao Ohuabunwa of the PDP.

According to the tribunal, the election is expected to take place within the next 90 days in some wards in Ohafia, Arochukwu, Isuikwuato, Nkporo and Bende LGAs.

Ohabunwa had filed a petition challenging the declaration of Orji Kalu as the elected candidate, alleging non-compliance with the principles of electoral law and violation of margin of lead.

Details later…

Alleged N7.6bn Fraud: Absence Of Kalu’s Lawyer Stalls Trial

A file photo of Senator Orji Kalu.

 

 

The trial of the former Governor of Abia State, and the lawmaker representing Abia North Senatorial District, Orji Uzor Kalu, has been stalled at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

Senator Kalu’s trial could not continue on Monday as a result of the absence of his counsel who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Professor Awa Kalu.

Although the former governor was present in court, the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, was informed that Professor Kalu was ill.

READ ALSO: Court Affirms APC’s Decision To Hold Indirect Primary In Kogi

The message came through the second defendants’ counsel, Mr Kelvin Nwofo (SAN), who told the court that he came into Lagos on Sunday with Professor Kalu who suddenly took ill.

Mr Nwofo then asked the court to grant an adjournment to enable the professor to recover.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Adebisi Adeniyi, had no objections to the request for an adjournment and Justice Idris subsequently adjourned proceedings until Tuesday, August 27.

The former governor is standing trial before Justice Idris on an alleged N7.6bn fraud brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC arraigned him in November 2016 alongside the second defendant, his former Commissioner for Finance, Jones Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Ltd, which is the third defendant, on an amended 39-count of fraud-related offences.

They had all pleaded not guilty to the charge.

At the last sitting of the court on July 22, Senator Kalu finally opened his defence on the allegations against him.

He took the witness box in his own defence and was only able to testify for about seven minutes before the proceedings were adjourned until August 26.

In giving his testimony, the former governor was only able to state his name, address, occupation and the number of counts for which he was standing trial before the proceedings was truncated by Professor Kalu who asked for an adjournment to enable him adequately prepare for the trial.

At the last adjourned date, Justice Idris had also told the parties that by a fiat dated July 8, the President of the Court of Appeal had directed that “I conclude this part-heard matter.”

“Trial will now run from day-to-day until we finish,” he said.

Alleged N7.6bn Fraud: Orji Kalu’s 13-Year-Long Trial To Resume Today

The trial of a former Abia State governor and Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District, Orji Uzor Kalu, will resume at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos today.

The trial which had been on for over 13 years was given a fresh fiat by President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, to enable him to return to the court to conclude the case.

Justice Idris was elevated from the Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal in June 2018. But he continued to hear the case after the President of the Court of Appeal initially granted a fiat for him to do so.

The fiat was granted at the instance of Kalu’s Lawyer, Professor Awa Kalu (SAN) who activated Section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, in order to prevent the case from being transferred to another judge to start afresh.

That fiat expired in November 2018.

A copy of a Fresh Fiat sighted by our Judiciary Correspondent, Shola Soyele stated that the trial will now commence on July 22 and will continue from day to day until the trial is concluded.

Kalu is standing trial alongside his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo, and a company, Slok Nigeria Limited, on an amended 39-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N7.6billion.

 

Background:

On July 31, 2018, Justice Idris dismissed the ‘no-case submissions’ made by Orji Kalu and the other defendants and ordered them to open their defence.

But rather than open their defence, Kalu sought a six-week adjournment to embark on a trip to Germany to have surgery for an undisclosed ailment.

The defendants later challenged the jurisdiction of the judge to hear the case, arguing that he was no longer a judge of the high court.

They also filed an application seeking a stay of proceedings pending the outcome of their appeals.

Justice Idris dismissed both.

When Kanu did not subsequently make himself available for his trial, Justice Idris revoked his bail.

The judge also ordered him to submit himself to the EFCC within 24 hours of his return to the country.

On January 23, 2019, when the case last came up in court, the prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), complained about Kalu’s repeated absence from court, alleging that the former governor, then a senator-elect, was taking the court for a ride. The counsel also noted that despite the court’s order, Kanu did not turn himself into the EFCC.

“He (Kalu) kept on campaigning for his senatorial ambition, slapping the court in the face; his attitude is unbecoming,” Jacobs said while urging Justice Idris to continue the hearing in Kalu’s absence.

But in response, Justice Idris said he could not proceed with the case as a second fiat given to him by the Appeal Court President had expired in November 2018.