Supreme Court Voids Kalu's Conviction, Returns To Senate - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Friday, May 8, 2020

Supreme Court Voids Kalu's Conviction, Returns To Senate

... Court Orders Fresh Trial Of Corruption Case Against Kalu

....We're ready for fresh retrial of Kalu - EFCC

From Jane Okafor, Abuja

The Supreme Court sitting in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) voided the cnviction  and 12 years jail term  slammed on former Governor of Abia State, Senator  Orji Uzor Kalu.

In a unanimous judgement reached this morning by a seven-man panel, led by Justice Amina Augie, the Supreme Court held that the Federal High Court in Lagos, which tried and convicted  Kalu, his firm – Slok Nigeria Limited and his former aide, Jones Udeogu, acted without jurisdiction.

And in the 'Not - Yet - Uhuru - for Kalu' verdict, the Supreme Court quashed the trial, conviction and sentencing of Orji Kalu' and others handed down to him last December 5 by the lower Court in Lagos and proceeded to order a fresh trial of the corruption case by another judge.

In arriving at the decision, the Court concluded that Justice Mohammed Idris, who conducted the trial, was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as of  the time he entertained, heard and delivered the judgement on it. 

The judgement convicted the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1billion from Abia state treasury.

It noted that Justice Idris, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal before then, lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge on the matter.

The Court also reckoned that  the fiat that was issued to Justice Idris by the Court of Appeal President, pursuant to Section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act lacked constitutional backing.

And reacting the  ex-Abia governor described it as one made in Nigeria.

"My case is a true Nigerian story with a bold MADE-IN-NIGERIA stamp on it," he said.


THE FULL STATEMENT BY SENATOR (DR.) ORJI UZOR KALU 


Today, the Supreme Court of Nigeria gave a judgement in my favor, quashing the conviction which the lower court had entered against me. By today's judgment, the Apex court of our dear country affirmed my right to fair hearing and equal protection of the law.

The past five months have been quite a profound period for me. As challenging as that period has been, it has provided me an opportunity to learn invaluable lessons about our country, our peoples, our justice system and the true meaning of love. I mean love for family, love for our country and love for humanity. 

I want to use this moment to thank my family, my colleagues, my friends, my supporters, the people of Abia State, and all Nigerians for their unflinching and unwavering confidence and trust in me through the very testing period. We all know today that their prayers have not been in vain. I also use this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Nigerian Correctional Service for the unalloyed professionalism and sincere humanity extended to me by its staff while I was in their custody.

I must accord a special mention to the Justices of our Supreme Court for their unwavering commitment to rule of law. We all stand reminded of the consistent and strategic relevance of the Nigerian Supreme Court in holding this country together, even in moments of great peril. As far back as in the 1971 case of LAKANMI V. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION, (the Ademola Adetokunbo-led Court) the Nigerian Supreme Court has severally rescued this country from the precipice. Also throughout the dark era of military rule in Nigeria, the Supreme Court neither wavered nor flinched in its commitment to justice and fairness. And despite some moments of distraction and mass hysteria, the Nigerian Supreme Court has remained the veritable compass to the highest ideals of justice attainable in this country. This long tradition of the court was exemplified in today's judgment. I was humbled by the court's boldness and sense of justice as shown in my case. 

Overall, my experience tested and reaffirmed my belief and confidence in our country, Nigeria. My case is a true Nigerian story with a bold MADE-IN-NIGERIA stamp on it. It is a story of initial injustice that was caught and ultimately corrected. It is a story of restoration. It is a story of how a wrong was righted and how justice and truth prevailed in the end. It is a story of the power of hope. My case should teach us all that even though we may not get things right at the first attempt, with patience and dedication, we shall get them right eventually. That is the lesson of my case and that is the lesson of our country - that with dedication and patience, we shall place Nigeria in its rightful place eventually. 

Before I end, I would like to let it be known that the events of the past five months gave me an added perspective on matters of justice and injustice in Nigeria. I have come to know that the course of justice will not be complete if it stopped at my case. It must continue until it touches the lives of millions of Nigerians who face injustice anywhere in this world. I shall be dedicating my time henceforth to ensuring there will be justice for all Nigerians whether they are in Sokoto or Akwa Ibom or in Lagos or Maiduguri or in Jos or Enugu, or wherever they may be. Justice for one man or for a few people will no longer be enough in this country. A system whereby over 70% of all prison inmates population is  made up of people awaiting trial cannot be allowed to continue. Situations where innocent people are falsely charged with murder just to get them out of the way does not dignify our country and cannot continue. 
 must now mean justice for all. That is my pledge to Nigerians. 

I look forward to rejoining my colleagues in the Senate as soon as possible.

Thank you and God bless all of you.

Signed by:

SENATOR (DR) ORJI UZOR KALU
(Given on the occasion of the Supreme Court judgment quashing the judgment of a lower court entered against him on December 5, 2019)

However,  the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it is set for fresh and immediate retrial of Kalu', adding the Commission has overwhelming facts against him in respect of the charge, according to Dele Oyewale, it's Head,  Media & Publicity.
 
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. 




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