The Supreme Court has voided the judgement that convicted and sentenced the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor-Kalu, to 12 years imprisonment, on Friday.
In a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie, the high court held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.
It held that trial Justice Mohammed Liman 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 N7.1billion from Abia state treasury.
According to the Supreme Court, Justice Liman, who had been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the trial, had no powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge.
It held that the authority th1at was issued to him by the Court of Appeal President pursuant to section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act was unconstitutional.
The supreme court thereby vacated the judgement that convicted the defendants, ordering a fresh trial of the defendants.
Recall, a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday On December 5, 2019, convicted Orji Kalu now a senator, to 12 Years’ Imprisonment For N7.2 Billion Fraud And Money Laundering, on all the 39 counts preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission charge.
A former Commissioner for Finance, in the state Jones Udeogo, and his company, Slok Nig. Ltd. were sentenced alongside Kalu.
Though Udeogo was convicted on 34 counts and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, while Kalu and his company were found guilty of all the 39 counts.
Reported by: Fatimah Oyesanmi