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Alleged N7.1b fraud: Court refuses to move Ex-Gov’s  trial to Lagos

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has turned down the request for the transfer of the trial of the former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu to the court’s Lagos division.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (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 Federal High Court in line with an earlier ruling of the Court of Appeal that Lagos was the proper forum for the trial of the case.

In a ruling on Friday, Justice Inyang Ekwo 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.

Justice Ekwo held that the prosecution had twice written to the Chief Judge, requesting for the transfer and which request the Chief Judge declined.

He said the prosecution ought to abide by the decision of the court’s Chief Judge or in the alternative; the prosecution was at liberty to return to the Supreme Court to seek a review of its earlier order directing that the case be re-heard by the Federal High Court.

The Judge noted that granting the request to transfer the case to Lagos would breach the provision of Section 235 of the 1999 Constitution and amount to a challenge of the finality and supremacy of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Justice Ekwo, who described the EFCC’s application as an abuse of court process, ordered the lawyer, Rotomi Jacobs to show cause within seven days why he should not be disqualified from further prosecuting the case. He then adjourned till October for further proceedings in the case.

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