The Supreme Court has nullified the judgement that convicted and sentenced the former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu, to 12 years imprisonment.
The court convicted Kalu on all the 39 counts preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alongside a former Commissioner for Finance, in the state Jones Udeogo, and his company, Slok Nig. Ltd.
While Kalu and his company were found guilty of all the 39 counts, Udeogo was convicted on 34 counts and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
However, in a unanimous on Friday 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, Udeogu, acted without jurisdiction.
The court was of the view that Justice Mohammed Idris, who conducted the trial, was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at the time he sat and delivered the judgement that convicted the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1 billion from Abia state treasury.
According to the Supreme Court, Justice Liman, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal before then, lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge.
It held that the Fiat that was issued to him by the Court of Appeal President pursuant to section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act was unconstitutional.
Consequently, the apex court proceeded to set aside the judgement that convicted the defendants and ordered a fresh trial of the defendants by another judge.
KanyiDaily had also reported that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seized properties belonging to Senator Orji Uzor Kalu as directed by Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos.