Dr. Johnson Greg
Yesterday, the Punch Newspaper reported as follows:
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said it is waiting on the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to reassign the N7.1bn fraud case of a former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, so that his fresh trial ordered by the Supreme Court can start.”
This is a development that OUK’s legal team must have been waiting for. It will be wrong to assume they were idle over it. The EFCC will meet stiff resistance as it pursues this obviously face saving measure.
First and foremost, the Supreme Court did not order that Orji Uzor Kalu be retried. You may need to read the judgment again. The order for a reassignment of the case and a trial de novo did not relate to Orji Uzor Kalu. The judgment is very clear on that. The retrial ordered by Supreme Court pertains only to the second defendant in the case who was the only appellant to the Supreme Court.
As it is, Orji Uzor Kalu cannot be tried again on the same charges. That will violate the rule against double jeopardy. The EFCC has had its chance to prosecute the case and get OUK convicted, and it failed after a 13 years of its best effort. The prospects of another 13 years without guaranteed outcome is absurd.
How much did EFCC spend in 13 years in prosecuting OUK? Transparency and accountability demand that Nigerians should know the cost of these failed prosecutions. That will show whose interest is really being served by these prosecutions. If, for instance, Nigerians find out that billions are being spent prosecuting OUK, they need to know whose interest is served.
EFCC was there when a judge that had no jurisdiction presided over the case. The EFCC raised no objections then against a trial that violated the Constitution. Instead, it encouraged it. And when the Supreme Court declared that the court had no jurisdiction, the EFCC called it a good judgment. In other words if the EFCC agreed that the trial court lacked jurisdiction, how come it did not raise an objection at the time? The EFCC will not be allowed a second bite at the apple. It lost, it lost the case.
OUK cannot be retried. The Supreme Court did not order that he be retried.