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Here’s What You Need To Know About The Orji Uzor Kalu Case




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On Friday, May 8, the Supreme Court nullifies the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited.

Here’s what you need to know about the Orji Uzor Kalu case:

What happened to Orji Uzor Kalu case?

  1. It all started with the judge who undertook the trial of Orji Kalu was elevated to the higher bench before completing the trial (giving judgement). He sought and obtained a fiat to be allowed to finish the case in accordance with section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act./

2. That section 396 in subsection 7 provides thus:

3. The subsection is one that was put in the law to protect against what has just happened-that years of prosecution does not go to waste, such that a judge who has heard the case can conclude the case within a reasonable time even if he has been elevated.

4. But one part of that provision which is weak is the use of the phrase “reasonable time”. This means that the extension of Jurisdiction is fluid. On the other hand, there are constitutional provisions on the powers of a judge, when he is to complete a case and deliver judgement/

5. A judge must deliver judgement within 90 days of hearing final addresses in a case, otherwise the case starts afresh.

6. I want us to understand that it is not that the trial judge did anything wrong. He continued with the case under a fiat of the President of the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court has now declared that that fiat is unconstitutional, which means t goes against the Constitution

8. We may immediately want to vilify the supreme court, but we must not. Any law or Act that is in conflict with a constitutional provision will give way to the Constitution. We are all so used to distrust of our Judiciary that we may be tempted to distrust this judgement, but I cannot

9. The Supreme court is the highest court of the land and must re-set all things that we may have been doing wrong or taken for granted. Many things will confuse us, but this is good for the rule of law. Orji Kalu is a beneficiary of fate’s benevolence. He is the cat with nine lives

10. It will be interesting to read the reasoning of the supreme court when the full ruling is available, but gentlemen, I will not impugn the Supreme court on this, shared by Arinola I. Awokoya.

Constitutional Lawyer and Human Rights Activist, Inibehe Effiong also added.

Is the Supreme Court right in this Orji Uzor Kalu case?

Yes, the Supreme Court is right in setting aside the conviction of Orji Uzor Kalu. I have always maintained the view that it is unconstitutional for a judge of the Federal High Court who has been elevated to the Court of Appeal to continue to sit over cases at the Federal High Court.

As rightly held by the Apex Court, Section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) that empowered the President of the Court of Appeal to give fiat to elevated federal judges to continue to hear and determine part-heard cases is in conflict with the Constitution.

The hierarchy of courts is a constitutional creation. The moment Justice Idris subscribed to his oath of office as a Justice of the Court of Appeal, his office/former oath as a judge of the Federal High Court became extinct in law. A judicial officer can’t function in two courts.

This has been my position all along. The Supreme Court has only affirmed Section 1 (1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution which renders any other law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution void. This judgment is about the supremacy of the Constitution.

Since Justice Idris did not have jurisdiction to continue sit over the case, the conviction of Kalu and his co-defendants was null and void.

Note that the Supreme Court did not pronounce on the guilt or innocence of Kalu and others. The Apex Court rightly ordered a fresh trial.

If Kalu is guilty, the judgment of the Supreme Court may just be a temporary reprieve; it might be a postponement of the evil day for Kalu and his company, Sloks Nigeria Ltd. However, the judgment will impact on the ability of the prosecution to prove its case in a fresh trial.

This case has been on for too long. Kalu at a point fought the prosecution up to the Supreme Court on technical points. The trial was stalled. By the time he lost his interlocutory appeal, a lot had changed, including the elevation of the trial judge to the Court of Appeal.

The prosecution (EFCC) will have to begin a fresh search for their witnesses. Some of them may have died or may have lost interest or may not remember what transpired with exactitude.

The intention behind Section 396 of the ACJA was noble. But the Constitution is supreme.

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I have a passion for blogging about what's trending in Hip-Hop, politics and entertainment. I'm a huge Hip-hop fan; my favorite artiste are Chris Brown, Jay'z & Beyonce. I also enjoy spending time with my team (#TeamWE), and working hard as hard work pays off.

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