Orji Kalu’s arraignment over money laundering fails to hold

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The arraignment of former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu in a Federal High Court, Abuja over alleged diversion of funds has failed to hold.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Tuesday indicated its intention to seek the transfer of the case to the Lagos division of the court where it was first heard.

EFCC prosecution counsel, Chile Okoroma (SAN) said the commission has already written the Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho for the transfer.

Defence counsel, Awa Kalu (SAN) said the defence has filed an ex parte application challenging the re-arraignment.

The Senate Chief Whip, who is representing Abia North Senatorial District under the platform of the All-Progressives Congress (APC), was on December 5, 2019 convicted and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by a Federal High Court in Lagos on a 39-count allegations of money laundering to the tune of N7.6 billion during his tenure as governor between 1999 and 2007.

But Kalu’s co-defendants, Slok Nigeria Ltd and a former Director of Finance of the Abia State Government House, Jones Udeogu challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Lagos to conduct the trial after the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal, returned to conclude the proceedings.

The Supreme Court in May, 2020 set aside the judgment of the high court, and declared as unconstitutional the provision of section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, on which Justice Idris relied on to return from the Court of Appeal to conclude the trial.

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