THE Supreme Court has nullified the 12 year jail term of former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, and ordered a fresh trial by the lower courts.
Delivering judgement on Friday, a seven-member panel of the apex court in a unanimous decision set aside the judgement of Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos which convicted and sentenced Kalu and and a former Director of Finance and Account at the Abia State Government House, Mr Jones Udeogu.
The apex court’s judgement, delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, quashed the convictions on the ground that Justice Mohammed Idris, who delivered the ruling in the high court was already a Justice of the Court of Appeal as at the time he delivered the judgment sentencing the appellants.
Justice Eko further held that the Federal High Court in Lagos didn’t have the jurisdiction because a Justice of the Court of Appeal cannot operate as a judge of the Federal High Court.
The Supreme Court set aside the judgement of Justice Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos, which convicted and sentenced Kalu and Udeogu because the Federal High Court in Lagos didn’t have the jurisdiction to try the case and convict Kalu, Udeogu and Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Ltd.
According to the Supreme Court, Justice Idris was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as the time he sat and convicted Kalu, and with his new position as Justice of the Court of Appeal, he lacked the powers to return to sit as a high court judge.
With the judgment, Kalu, who is senator representing Abia North in the National Assembly will return to his vacant seat in the Senate.
In the meantime, the Supreme Court ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to reassign the case for fresh trial.
Kalu was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which alleged that Kalu, who was governor between 1999 and 2007 was engaged in a N7.65 billion fraud. He was convicted alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeogu