The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has announced its intention to address procedural gaps in response to the Court of Appeal’s decision to halt the N6.7bn fraud case against former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu. Justice Joseph Oyewole of the appellate court rejected the EFCC’s attempt to reopen the case, citing unreliable records.

Speaking to journalists after the judgment, EFCC lawyer Oluwaleke Atolagbe stated that the commission would rectify the identified loopholes, emphasizing that the court did not delve into the merit of the appeal. Atolagbe expressed confidence in the opportunity to return to the Court of Appeal and have the merit of the case determined after addressing the court’s concerns.

The case originated from the Federal High Court in Lagos, which convicted Kalu, Slok Nigeria Limited, and former Abia State Government House Director of Finance and Accounts, Jones Udeogu, on December 5, 2019. Kalu was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Udeogu to 10 years, and Slok Nigeria Limited faced asset forfeiture.

Udeogu appealed the judgment, arguing that Justice Idris Mohammed, who pronounced the verdict, had already been elevated to the Court of Appeal at the time. The Supreme Court, in a May 8, 2020 judgment, sided with Udeogu, nullifying the conviction and declaring unconstitutional the provision of Section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. This provision had allowed Justice Idris to return to the high court from the Court of Appeal to conclude the trial.


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