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Why Supreme Court Nullified Kalu’s Conviction

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  • Why Supreme Court Nullified Kalu’s Conviction

The Supreme Court in Abuja on Friday nullified the conviction and sentencing of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor-Kalu, for corruption because the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Liman, lacked the powers to deliver judgment in Kalu’s trial as at the time he did.

According to the apex court in a unanimous decision delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, the fait on which Justice Liman relied on to deliver judgment lacked constitutional backing.

Justice Liman, who is currently a Justice of the Court of Appeal, had in December last year found the former governor guilty of corruption to the tune of N7.1 billion and consequently sentenced him to 12 years improvement.

While Kalu and a Director of Finance, Jones Udeogo who served under him as governor were both sentenced to jail terms of 12 and 10 years respectively, his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, was liquidated and its assets forfeited to the federal government.

Dissatisfied with the judgment of the court, the second and third defendants had approached the appellate court to set aside the judgment of Justice Liman on grounds of jurisdiction.

The appellants contended that the federal high court in Lagos lacked the jurisdiction to try them because the trial judge was no longer a judge of the federal high court but of the appeal court.

However, delivering judgment in the appeal in March this year a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.

The Court of Appeal in its judgment read by Justice Olabisi Ige, held that section 98(3) and (4) of administration of criminal justice Act 2015 were not applicable to the appellants’ case.

“Nothing is perverse with the decision of the trial court. The complaint of the appellants is a non-issue,” the judge held.

“If a court has a jurisdiction/power, the fact of doing so under a wrong law is no reason to set it aside. The rights of the appellants were not infringed”, the appellate court had held.

Still not satisfied, the appellants took their case to the Supreme Court where judgment was on Friday entered in their favour.

The seven-man panel led by Justice Amina Augie agreed with the appellants that the court lacked jurisdiction to convict and hand down sentences on the defendants.

It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2007 brought a 39-count charge against Kalu and the others.

But, the trial for the 12 years period it lasted suffered several setbacks.

To prevent further setback in the case then President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, had issued a fiat to Justice Liman, who was among the newly promoted judges to the bench of the appeal court, to return to the lower court to conclude cases being tried by him before his elevation.

Without such directive, Justice Liman as a Justice of the Court of Appeal cannot conclude and deliver judgment in the suit.

The implication is that the suit would then have been reassigned to another judge who will then have to start the case afresh.

However, the apex court in its decision held that section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 on which Justice Liman acted upon to convict and sentence Kalu was unconstitutional.

According to the apex court, the trial court acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Mr Udeogu.

Justice Eko noted that the trial judge, Justice Liman, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal before then, lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge.

Consequently, the apex court vacated the judgment that convicted the defendants and ordered a fresh trial.

The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in addition was directed to reassign the suit to another judge for fresh hearing.

Kalu has been in prison custody since December 4 last year. He has now regained his freedom and would face a fresh trial.

He was jailed upon conviction for embezzling funds belonging to Abia State.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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ICPC Declares Buhari’s Son-In-Law, Two Others Wanted For $65M Fraud

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Tarry, Gimba, Bola Fraud- Investorsking

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) has declared Gimba Kumo, a son-in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari, and two others wanted over alleged misappropriation of $65 million National Housing Funds.

Mr. Kumo, a former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, had in 2016 married Fatima, the president’s daughter, in Daura, Katsina State.

The ICPC in its list of wanted persons declared Mr. Kumo wanted alongside Tarry Rufus and Bola Ogunsola over the alleged fraud.

In the notice signed by its spokesperson Azuka Ogugua, the ICPC urged the public to provide information about the whereabouts of the wanted persons.

“The persons whose pictures appear above, Mr. Tarry Rufus, Mr. Gimba Yau Kumo, and Mr. Bola Ogunsola, are hereby declared WANTED by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in connection with issues bordering on misappropriation of National Housing Funds and diversion of the sum of Sixty Five Million dollars ($65,000,000).

“Anyone who has useful information on their whereabouts should report to ICPC Headquarters Abuja, any of the ICPC State Offices, or the nearest police station” the notice read.

In April, the senate committee on public accounts had summoned Mr. Kumo to explain the alleged irregular award of N3 billion contract when he was still at the bank.

The committee issued the summons following a query raised in a 2015-2018 report by the office of the auditor-general of the federation (AuGF) against the FMBN.

According to the report, the contract was awarded in four phases and was overpaid to the tune of N3,045,391,531.97.

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Lagos State Moves to Completely Ban Okada, Keke, Introduces Minibuses

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Minibus - Investors King

The Lagos State Government on Monday announced plans to completely ban the use of motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (Keke) due to rising crime and lawlessness across the state.

The announcement was made after a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja.

In the meeting attended by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; the Chief Judge, Kazeem Alogba; the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, traditional and religious leaders and members of the civil society, among others, the governor said the string of lawlessness daily witnessed from the confrontation between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies required urgent action.

Based on all that we have seen and experienced in the past couple of weeks, as well as the increasing threat posed by the activities of commercial motorcycle operators to the safety and security of lives, we will be announcing further changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations in the state in the coming days. No society can make progress amid such a haughty display of lawlessness and criminality,” he added.

Sanwo-Olu said from next week, the state would be inaugurating the First and Last Mile buses next week, which would take the routes the motorcycles were plying.

The state Commissioner of Police, Odumosu, raised the alarm over rising security breaches from the menace of okada operations in the state.

He said between January and early this month, 320 commercial motorcycles were impounded in 218 cases of criminal incidents in which 78 suspects were detained and 480 ammunition recovered.

In the same period, the Lagos police boss said Okada accounted for 83 per cent of 385 cases of avoidable fatal vehicular accidents in Lagos.

At the end of the meeting, a 12-point resolution was reached, among which was a ban on Okada “as a means of transportation in the state.”

 

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2023 Voter’s Registration Will Be Online, Biometric To Be Captured Physically- INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday unfolded plans to allow online filing during the continuous voter registration for the 2023 general election.

The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, however, said only the biometric would be captured physically by INEC officials.

But the commission suffered another setback yesterday as arsonists torched its office in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.

Okoye, during a stakeholders’ meeting on expanding voter access to polling units in Kano yesterday, said: “On June 28, the voter registration exercise for those above 18 years and those who have not registered before will commence with two new innovations. Those versatile with computer can register online and only visit a registration centre to capture their biometrics.”

Okoye stated that the online registration would be introduced to reduce crowd at registration centres in line with COVID-19 protocols.

The commission called on citizens, especially those willing to contest elections, whose voter cards have been defaced, whose names were wrongly spelt or addresses and locations wrongly captured to present themselves for authentication or correction.

INEC also called for valid data of all those with disabilities or physical challenges to be captured during the continuous registration for proper projections ahead of the 2023 general election.

INEC also warned political parties and politicians who have started campaigning to desist from doing so.

Okoye said: “There is a ban on political campaigns which has not been lifted yet. And I find it necessary to draw your attention for you to understand the legal implication of violating this ban.

“I have listened to comments on radio stations, which are capable of heating the polity. Media organisations should avoid providing platforms for such comments. The media should try to curtail such tensions.

“Political parties, politicians and their supporters should understand there is a legal framework for campaigns and it has not commenced yet.”

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