An Abuja Federal High Court, Friday, refused to transfer the trial of the Senate chief whip, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, to Lagos.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had prayed the court to grant its request to try Orji, a former governor of Abia State, in a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Orji’s case, alongside two other persons, is on a N7.1billion money laundering charge. Orji and his co-defendants were convicted and jailed, but the Supreme Court ruled that the trial was in error because the judge that tried him had been promoted to the Appeal Court.
EFCC’s effort to retry Orji is facing legal interpretations as the apex court did not state that Orji should be retried.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who presided over the case, Friday, rejected the application by the EFCC. He ruled that only the court’s chief judge had the power to transfer such a case under Section 98 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
According to him, the prosecution had twice applied to the chief judge requesting the transfer, adding that the request was twice declined by the chief judge.
Ekwo said the prosecution should obey the decision of the court’s chief judge or in the alternative, 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 said granting the request to transfer the case to Lagos was against Section 235 of the 1999 Constitution and amount to a challenge of the supremacy of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Justice Ekwo described the EFCC’s application as an abuse of court processes. He then directed the prosecuting counsel, Rotomi Jacobs, to show cause within seven days why he should not be disqualified from further prosecuting the case