SUPREME COURT NULLIFIES ORJI UZOR KALU’S JAIL TERM


Former Governor of Abia State and current senator representing Abia North Senatorial District, Orji Uzor Kalu prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by Justice Mohammed Idris, for stealing public funds when he held sway as governor.

ORJI UZOR KALU

But quashing the conviction, the apex court in a seven-man panel judgement delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, declared the conviction of the appellant as null and void on the ground that Mr Idris was already a Justice of the Court of Appeal as at of time he delivered the judgment sentencing the former governor.

Inibehe Effiong, Human Rights Lawyer, has said the Supreme Court is right in quashing the conviction of former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu.

In a statement on Friday, the Lagos based lawyer said the Supreme Court was right in its verdict.

“The Supreme Court is right in setting aside the conviction of Orji Uzor Kalu. I have always maintained the view that it is unconstitutional for a judge of the Federal High Court who has been elevated to the Court of Appeal to continue to sit over cases at the Federal High Court,” Mr Effiong said.

“As rightly held by the Apex Court, Section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) that empowered the President of the Court of Appeal to give fiat to elevated federal judges to continue to hear and determine part-heard cases is in conflict with the Constitution.

“The hierarchy of courts is a constitutional creation. The moment Justice Idris subscribed to his oath of office as a Justice of the Court of Appeal, his office/former oath as a judge of the Federal High Court became extinct in law. A judicial officer can’t function in two courts.

“This has been my position all along. The Supreme Court has only affirmed Section 1 (1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution which renders any other law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution void. This judgment is about the supremacy of the Constitution.

“This has been my position all along. The Supreme Court has only affirmed Section 1 (1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution which renders any other law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution void. This judgment is about the supremacy of the Constitution.

“Since Justice Idris did not have jurisdiction to continue sit over the case, the conviction of Orji Uzor Kalu and his co-defendants was null and void.

“Note that the Supreme Court did not pronounce on the guilt or innocence of Orji Uzor Kalu and others. The Apex Court rightly ordered a fresh trial.

“If Kalu is guilty, the judgment of the Supreme Court may just be a temporary reprieve; it might be a postponement of the evil day for Kalu and his company, Sloks Nigeria Ltd. However, the judgment will impact on the ability of the prosecution to prove its case in a fresh trial.

“This case has been on for too long. Kalu at a point fought the prosecution up to the Supreme Court on technical points. The trial was stalled. By the time he lost his interlocutory appeal, a lot had changed, including the elevation of the trial judge to the Court of Appeal.

“The prosecution (EFCC) will have to begin a fresh search for their witnesses. Some of them may have died or may have lost interest or may not remember what transpired with exactitude.

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About Genevieve Alozie 67 Articles
Genevieve Alozie holds a degree in English and Literary Studies, from Imo State University Owerri. She is a Content writer, Storyteller, Voice-over artist and an Entrepreneur, from Ahiazu Mbaise LGA in Imo State. She dreams to use her voice for the voiceless to uncover the untold stories.

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