Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Thursday, disclosed that the N7.1bn fraud case involving Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State, is far from over.
Recall that Kalu, the chief whip of the Senate, was convicted and jailed by a Federal High Court presided over by a judge that had been promoted to an Appeal Court, making his conviction a nullity after a Supreme Court ruling. When EFCC filed a suit to retry him, Kalu sought an Abuja Federal High Court’s order to bar the EFCC from proceeding with it.
He posited that the Supreme Court’s decision which ordered a retrial of the fraud case did not include him as a party in the retrial. His plea was granted.
But the EFCC boss, who spoke at the 62nd session of the State House Ministerial Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, said the anti-graft agency was still pursuing the case.
According to him, “The prosecution lasted for 12 years or so, and he was convicted by the court. He went to the Supreme Court, and the court said yes because he (the trial judge) was elevated to the Court of Appeal, it cannot come back to the lower court and that he should be retried in Lagos.
“So we wanted to arraign him almost immediately in Lagos for the prosecution to start all over again. Then he went to court challenging that he had been discharged and acquitted. Nobody discharged and acquitted him. We are still pursuing the matters in court here in Abuja. So, the matter is still ongoing.”
On the alleged cases of vote-buying by politicians ahead of the 2023 elections, Bawa said, “We’re doing quite a lot on this. We are working with INEC. But ultimately, we want to work with Nigerians. Nigerians should know the implication of selling their votes or accepting that their votes be bought by these individuals.
“A lot of people are scared about whether or not they can buy votes; whether or not people will be willing to sell their votes. We hope and pray that our modest efforts will be able to curtail vote-buying. We are working towards seeing that we contribute our quota to curtail it.”