Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday ordered that the re-arraignment of former Abia State governor, Senator Orji Uzo Kalu in an alleged N7.1 billion money laundering charges be put on hold pending the resolution of the legality of the retrial charges against him.
Justice Ekwo in a ruling in an ex-parte application also granted leave to the Senator representing Abia North, to challenge the legality of the retrial in the same charges.
The Judge agreed that Kalu who is Senate Chief Whip had placed sufficient materials of value before the court to enable him to secure the permission of the court for judicial review of his retrial in charges in which he had been tried, convicted and spent some months in Kuje prison in Abuja.
Justice Ekwo also granted Kalu permission to apply for an order of perpetual injunction against the Federal Government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC to prohibit his retrial so as not to be made to suffer double jeopardy.
Consequently, the Judge gave Kalu seven days within which to file and serve on EFCC all processes he intends to use to challenge the legality of the trial.
The court consequently fixed February 23, 2021, for mention into the matter.
Kalu had asked the Court to prohibit the EFCC from retrying him on the same alleged N7.1B money laundering charges against him.
He contended that having been tried once by EFCC, convicted and sentenced in the same charges FHC/ABJ/CR/56/ 2007, it will amount to double jeopardy for him if he is allowed to be subjected to a fresh trial on the same charge.
In the ex-parte motion moved before Justice Ekwo last week Tuesday, by his counsel, Profesor Awa Kalu (SAN), Senator Kalu pleaded with the court to rescue him from suffering double jeopardy.
He further sought for an order of the court prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria
, through the EFCC, its 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 the same.
also applied for orders 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 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.
Kalu further asked that if his application is granted, it should operate as a stay of proceedings until the determination
of the application or until the Judge otherwise orders.