Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has warned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against frittering public fund on what it described as meaningless appeal against court’s decision on alleged corruption cases against former Abia Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu.
The Federal High Court had on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, barred the EFCC and other agencies of the government from retrying Kalu, based on the N7.1 billion money laundering earlier preferred against him.
Following the court’s decision, the anti-graft agency had vowed to appeal against the ruling and HURIWA sees the move as meaningless shadow boxing and emotional pursuit of self help measures by the EFCC.
HURIWA said the persistent and sustained tempo of media persecution by the EFCC against the Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District has graphically exposed the hierarchy of the agency as a group of persons pursuing a war of Ethno-religious vendetta against one of the most prominent Igbo South East politicians with the potency to be considered for the position of the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress in the 2023 Presidential election.
“It would seem that some reactionary elements from the Arewa Peoples Congress and the Northern Governors Forum may have penetrator the EFCC and have deployed the EFCC to weaken the possibility of the South East to present a formidable candidate for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023,” HURIWA said.
HURIWA recalled that the court, in a judgment that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that the Supreme Court did not in the verdict it gave on May 8, 2020, order the retrial of either Kalu or his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited.
HURIWA said the presiding judge Justice Ekwo held that the Supreme Court only ordered the retrial of former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu, who was the Appellant before it. Consequently, he upheld a suit Kalu filed to challenge the legal propriety of his planned re-arraignment by the EFCC.
Kalu had in the Application he filed through his team of lawyers let 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”.
HURIWA however condemned the EFCC for seeking to have the same matter that was decided by the competent court of law and reached a determination that saw the former Governor going to the Kuje Prisons spending over 6 Months just before the highest Court in Nigeria the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled that the judicial process that led to the sentencing of Orji Uzor Kalu to Kuje Prison was irregular and therefore ordered the immediate freedom for the erstwhile governor.
HURIWA said the attempt to initiate the same case twice after the accused person had spent time in prison for same charges amounted to double jeopardy which is irregular and unconstitutional.
The Rights group, therefore, asked the EFCC to perish the thought of frittering humongous sum of public fund to chase politically motivated persecution of Kalu at the Court of Appeal.