The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday prayed the Federal High Court, Abuja to transfer the fresh trial of former Abia governor and two others in an alleged N7.1 billion fraud to Lagos.
The application seeking the transfer was brought pursuant to Sections 19, 22 and 45 of the Federal High Court Act 2010 and Section 93 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) 2015.
The anti graft agency prayed for an order of the Federal High Court, Abuja transferring the case with charge number FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between Federal Republic of Nigeria and Orji Uzor Kalu and two others to the Lagos division of the court.
When the matter was called, Prof. Awa Kalu, SAN, appeared for Kalu, Mr. Solo Akuma, SAN, announced appearance for Jones Udeogu while Mr Goddy Uche, SAN, stood in for Slok Nigeria Ltd.
The EFCC counsel, Mr. Oluwaleke Atolagbe predicated the application on five grounds among which was that the Abuja Division of the court lacked the requisite territorial jurisdiction to entertain and try the defendants in the instant charge.
Atolagbe, in the application submitted that the charge was preferred against Kalu, Slok Nig. Ltd and Jones Udeogu at the Federal High Court Abuja sometime in June 2007 by the EFCC following an investigation by the commission.
The motion further held that after taking their plea, the defendants brought an application challenging the competence of the charge and contended that there was no prima facie case against them.
However, the trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo said that he would not be able to take the application in view of the approaching Easter holiday.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until May 17 for determination of the application.
The Federal High Court had on Sept. 29, 2021, barred the EFCC from retrying Kalu on charges bordering on the alleged N7.1 billion fraud.
Justice Ekwo held that the Supreme Court only ordered the retrial of former Director of Finance in Abia , Jones Udeogu, who was the appellant before it.
However, dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial court, the anti-graft agency went on appeal praying the appellate court to set aside the Sept. 29 judgment which prohibited it from retrying the former governor and his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited.
The EFCC prayed the Appeal Court to order Kalu and his company, to submit themselves for retrial, in line with the order of the Supreme Court in its May 8, 2020 judgment, voiding the earlier trial and conviction of Kalu and two others, and ordering a retrial.
Kalu was serving a 12-year jail term for N7.1 billion fraud when the Supreme Court, ruling on an appeal by his co-defendant, Udeogu, on May 8, 2020, nullified the proceedings leading to their conviction.