Sun. Sep 19th, 2021

The Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned a suit by filed by the former governor of Abia state and Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Kalu seeking to stop his retrial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on the same alleged money laundering charges, to April 20.

The adjournment followed court’s position that EFCC, listed in the case as the first defendant in the suit, was not properly served with the originating summons.

The EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs at the resumed hearing, drew the attention of the court to the fact that the originating summons was served on his chambers instead of the commission.

He told Justice Inyang Ekwo that he was yet to be briefed by the anti-graft agency as its counsel and it would amount to professional misconduct to accept processes on the matter.

In his response, Professor Awa Kalu who appeared for Senator Kalu said he has no problem serving the EFCC with the originating summons.

Justice Ekwo accordingly adjourned the case to April 20 for hearing and directed the applicant to serve the EFCC within seven days.

The court had on February 8, 2021, granted leave to Senator Kalu to challenge his retrial by the EFCC on the same charges upon which he was sentenced and convicted.

Justice Inyang Ekwo thereafter, ordered that the planned re-arraignment of Senator Kalu in the alleged ₦7.1 billion money-laundering charges be put on hold until the resolution of the legal questions raised against his retrial.

In a motion exparte argued by his counsel, Senator Kalu asked for an order of Court prohibiting the EFCC from retrying him on the same alleged money laundering charges against him.

He contended that having been tried, convicted and sentenced the on same charges a Federal High court presided over by Justice M.B. Idris, it will amount to double jeopardy if he is subjected to a fresh trial on the same charges.

Justice Ekwo in his ruling, granted leave to Senator Kalu to seek an order prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the EFCC (her agent), her officers, servants, others, agents, privies and any other person or bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying him on charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & 2 ors or any other charge based on the same facts de novo, there being no extant judgment and ruling of a competent court in Nigeria mandating same.

An order prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the EFCC (her agent), her officers, servants, others, agents, privies and any other person or bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from retrying, harassing and intimidating him with respect to the charge as it concerns charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between FRN vs Orji Kalu & 2 ors or any other charge based on same facts as he need not suffer double jeopardy.

The court further ordered that the leave should operate as a stay of proceedings until the determination of the application.

Justice Ekwo in his ruling held that the applicant who is fully clothed with the locus standi has placed sufficient materials in his supporting affidavits to warrant the court to exercise its discretion in his favor.

“Leave is at the discretion of the court under order 34(2) of the Federal High Court. In granting leave, there must be sufficient material fact placed before the court by the applicant to enable it to exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously.

“The averments in the affidavit in support of the motion are about the applicant who has demonstrated sufficient interest to cloth him with a locus standi to bring the action.

“By section 34 (9) of the constitution, no person who shows that he has been tried by any court of competent jurisdiction or tribunal for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence having the same ingredients as that offence save upon the order of a competent court.”

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