• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Appeal Court strikes out FG’s N7.6bn fraud suit against Orji Kalu

Appeal Court strikes out FG’s N7.6bn fraud suit against Orji Kalu

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has dismissed the Federal Government’s attempt to file a fresh trial against Orji Kalu, former Governor of Abia State, over alleged N7.6 billion fraud and money laundering.

Justice Joseph Oyewole, leading the three-member appellate court, ruled on Wednesday that the Federal Government’s appeal record was deficient, rendering it insufficient for any court to consider its retrial request.

Citing procedural rules and section 104 of the Evidence Act, Oyewole emphasised the mandatory certification of trial court proceedings by a public officer in custody of such records.

This decision follows a previous ruling in September 2021 by Federal High Court Judge Inyang Ekwo, who barred the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from retrying Kalu.

The former governor had been serving a 12-year jail term for the alleged offences until the Supreme Court overturned the conviction on May 8, 2020, ordering a retrial at the Federal High Court.

Despite the Supreme Court’s judgment, Judge Ekwo maintained that the retrial of Kalu was not explicitly ordered. Citing constitutional and legal provisions, he asserted that no person can be retried for an offence on which they have been convicted.

Undeterred, the EFCC, represented by lawyer Oluwaleke Atolagbe, pursued an appeal at the Court of Appeal to nullify Judge Ekwo’s decision.

However, the recent ruling has now struck out the appeal, dealing a blow to the government’s efforts to retry Kalu on the amended 39 counts related to financial mismanagement during his tenure as Abia State governor from 1999 to 2007.