Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Monday granted leave to Slok Nigeria Limited, a firm owned by former Abia State Governor, Senator Orji Kalu, to challenge its planned retrial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on corruption allegations.
Slok, Kalu and a former Finance Director during Kalu’s administration, Ude Udeogu, were convicted of alleged criminal charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N7.1 billion.
However, their conviction was quashed by the Supreme Court on grounds that the trial judge, who convicted them should have handed off the case following his elevation to the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court in nullifying the conviction however ordered a fresh trial of the defendants, thereby resulting to a request by the company to challenge its fresh trial by the EFCC.
In a short ruling on Monday, Justice Ekwo while granting leave to Slok to proceed to file a suit against its retrial, ordered the firm to serve the respondents in the case marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/475/2021 — the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), Kalu and Udeogu — within seven days.
Justice Ekwo consequently adjourned to July 13 for hearing.
In the new suit, Slok is seeking to prohibit the federal government and its agents, including the EFCC, from retrying it based on the same case on which it was earlier convicted and sentenced, arguing that it would amount to being subjected to double jeopardy.
Slok also argued that such a retrial was unnecessary because there was “no order of a superior court in Nigeria mandating same”.
It is also seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the federal government, through the EFCC, from “further retrying, harassing and/or intimidating the applicant with respect to charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07 FRN v. Orji Uzor Kalu and 2 others or any matter connected thereto or therewith, or any other charge based on the same facts or having the same ingredients”.
Slok argued that having already been tried and convicted, it is protected from double jeopardy by the constitution and by the law.
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