No respite for Orji Kalu, Appeal Court upholds 12 years imprisonment

March 27, 2020
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There is no respite yet for the Chief Whip of Nigeria’s Ninth Senate, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State who was sentenced by a Federal High Court to 12 years imprisonment having been found guilty of corruption.

The Court of Appeal had on Wednesday dismissed the suit by Slok Nigeria Limited challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Lagos, which convicted Orji Uzor-Kalu. to 12 years jail term in a N7.65 billion impropriety being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Kalu was convicted together with Udeh Udeogu, Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during his administration.

While Kalu was handed 12 years imprisonment, Udeogu was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

A third defendant, Slok Nigeria Limited, was ordered to be wound up and its assets forfeited to the federal government.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) had prosecuted the three  defendants on criminal charge of conspiring and diverting N7.65 billion from the treasury of Abia State in Kalu admionistration.

Slok and Udeogu had approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgement of the trial court for lack of jurisdiction.

The appellants, Slok and Udeogo, identified  the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Federal Republic of Nigeria, the EFCC and Kalu  as respondents.

Slok and Udeogo had argued that the Federal High Court in Lagos lacked the jurisdiction to try them.

But the three-member panel of the Appeal Court in a judgment read by Justice Olabisi Ige on Wednesday were said to have dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.

Justice Ige held that section 98(3) and (4) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, were not applicable to the appellants’ case.

The Appeal Court had maintained that petition must relate to an allegation of wrongdoing by the trial judge and that letter was written by the EFCC, in this case, could not be said to be a petition.

“Nothing is perverted with the decision of the trial court. The complaint of the appellants is a non-issue.

“If a court has jurisdiction/power, the fact of doing so under a wrong law is no reason to set it aside. The rights of the appellants were not infringed,” the judge had said.

The appellate court further held that the appellants did not show mala side (bad faith) by the chief judge and EFCC.

Besides, it held that the transfer did not curtail the appellants right.

The court added that there was no element of forum-shopping in the case.

Kalu’s personal appeal is still pending.

The President of the Senate of the Nigerian National Assembly, Ahmad Lawan, has continued to pay Kalu’s salaries and allowances while in prison, explaining that  the salaries and allowances cannot be stopped since he has not exhausted the legal process to the Supreme Court.

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