The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has rejected a request made by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), seeking to transfer the retrial of former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, to the Federal High Court, Lagos.
The EFCC had applied to the court that the N7.1 billion money laundering charge against Kalu and two others be transferred to the Lagos division of the court, in line with an earlier ruling of the Court of Appeal that Lagos was the proper jurisdiction for the trial of the case.
Justice Inyang Ekwo in his ruling, rejected the application by the EFCC on the grounds that only the court’s Chief Judge possesses the power to transfer such a case under Section 98 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
He held that the prosecution had twice written to the Chief Judge, requesting for the transfer and which request the Chief Judge declined.
The trial Judge, held that the request by the anti-graft agency, lacked merit.
The Court further held that EFCC’s application amounted to an abuse of the judicial process, stressing that the Abuja Division of the court has the requisite jurisdiction to handle the case.
Ekwo stated that the prosecution should follow the Chief Judge’s ruling or, in the alternative, that they were free to go back to the Supreme Court and request a review of their prior judgement mandating that the Federal High Court hear the matter again.
According to the court, granting the motion to move the case to Lagos would violate Section 235 of the 1999 Constitution and amount to a challenge to the Supreme Court of Nigeria’s authority and finality.
Ekwo, who declared in his conclusion that the EFCC’s application was a misuse of the legal system, gave Rotomi Jacobs, the prosecution’s attorney, a seven-day deadline to demonstrate good cause as to why he should not be barred from continuing the case’s prosecution.