By Tobi Adetunji
The Federal Government has faulted the requests by a former Abia Governor Senator Orji Kalu for the unfreezing of his bank accounts and the striking out of his name from a pending money laundering charge.
The Federal Govt in its counter-affidavit in opposition to a fresh motion by Kalu, argued that such request was intended to circumvent its pending appeal against the September 29, 2021 judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja baring his retrial on the money laundering charge involving him and two others.
Relying on the September 29 judgment, Kalu had applied to the court and prayed that the place-no-debit order placed on his accounts during his earlier trial, be lifted.
He also wants the court to strike out his name from the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/R/56/2007 on which he was earlier convicted and sentenced along with his firm, Slok Nigeria Ltd and a former Abia State official, Ude Jones Udeogu.
The Federal Govt on whose behalf the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting the case, argued that the court cannot hear Kalu’s motion in view of its pending appeal and application for stay of execution of the September 29 judgment.
It also argued that it was wrong for the state to consider Kalu’s motion when its application for the transfer of the case to the court’s Lagos division was yet to be acted upon by the court’s Chief Judge.
It argued that in view of an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal, the Abuja division of the Federal High Court lacks the territorial jurisdiction to entertain and try the charge and the fresh motion by Kalu.
“It is only appropriate for this honourable court, as presently constituted, to transfer the charge in this case to the Lagos division where the case can be properly tried and decided.
“The complainant/respondent has also filed a motion for stay of execution of the judgment of this honourable court in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/73/2021 which the 1st defendant/applicant (Kalu) herein now seeks to rely on for its name to be struck out from the instant charge and for the Post No Debit (PND) on the accounts of the first defendant/applicant to be lifted.”
It added that the rest (subject-matter) of the pending charge would be destroyed if Kalu’s fresh motion is granted while its appeal and application for stay of execution were still pending before the Court of Appeal.
“Justice demands that the status quo in this charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR.56/2007: F.R.N v. ORJI UZOR KALU & 2 others be maintained by continuing the prosecution of the 1st defendant/applicant together with others in the charge until a final determination of the appeal in appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/797/2021.”
At the mention of the case on Tuesday, lawyer to Kalu, Ikoro Okoro requested for time to respond to EFCC’s counter-affidavit.
Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned till March 10 for hearing.