From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
There was jubilation in Umuahia, the Abia state capital, and Aba, the commercial hub of the State, following yesterday’s judgement by the Abuja division of the Federal High Court barring the Federal Government from retrying the former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, over the N7.1 billion money laundering charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) earlier preferred against him.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in his judgment, held that there was no where in the judgment of the Supreme Court of May 8, 2020, ordering the re-trial of Kalu or his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited.
The judge added that he lacked the constitutional powers to translate or expand the order of the Supreme Court to include the names of Orji Kalu and his firm, Slok Nigeria Ltd, when the supreme court had not ordered their trial de novo.
Reacting to the judgment, counsel to Slok Nigeria Ltd, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN), said it was the true position of the law.
He said: “I am full of joy and very thankful to God. It has shown how courageous the judge was in interpreting the constitution and the judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on May 8, 2020. As the judge said, there were no specific orders made for the re-trial of Orji Kalu and Slok Nigeria Ltd.
“In his judgment, justice Ekwo stated that ‘the crucial issue in this case is not about what the prosecution has articulated, but what it has done. I am minded to say that the facts and circumstances in Okoh V State (Supra) heavily relied by counsel for the respondent (EFCC) are quite far away from the facts and circumstances of this case.
“In our jurisprudence, a case is authority for what it actually decided. For a previous decision to bind on any court, the facts and the law in the subsequent case must be same and similar to those which informed the court’s earlier decision.”
Kalu had, in the application he filed through his team of lawyers led by Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, argued that allowing the EFCC to try him afresh on the charge and same facts upon which he was earlier convicted and sentenced on December 5, 2019, would occasion him to suffer a “double jeopardy”.
He said: “The unassailable position of the law is that 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 or a competent court.”