- 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.
Sanwo-Olu Orders Full Reopening of Markets
Governor of Lagos State Orders Full Reopening of All Markets
Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos has ordered the full reopening of markets in the state after a report showed new cases of COVID-19 have subsided.
The governor ordered the full reopening of both the food markets and non-food markets across the metropolis.
Dr. Wale Ahmed, the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, disclosed this in a statement issued on Tuesday.
He said the governor took the decision to further deepen trade and commerce and ease the hardship of recent happenings.
It should be recalled that the markets were shut due to the outbreak of ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in March before they were partially reopened for activities in May.
The governor, however, urged all traders to observe all safety protocols in order to prevent a possible resurgence of COVID-19 in the state.
Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Speaks on Looted Palliatives, Explains Delay
Looted Palliatives: Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Speaks
Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has spoken on the recent actions of criminals and thugs who hijacked the #EndSARS protest and looted warehouses where COVID-19 palliatives were kept for distributions.
The group refuted claims that the stolen items were hoarded for certain people instead of distribution to the vulnerable they were meant for. This is despite the fact that some of the palliatives were already rotten by the time criminals broke into the warehouses.
Some of the looters, who spoke with the press, said a sizeable number of the items were already rotten and destroyed by rodents, while one of the lawmakers tasked with distribution claimed he planned to distribute the items on his birthday. A statement that angered many Nigerians.
However, in a statement issued on behalf of the group by Osita Nwanisobi, the Acting Director of Corporate Communications, CBN, on Monday, CACOVID said due to the huge size of the items meant to be distributed, the complex process involved in manufacturing, packaging and the eventual distribution to 2 million most vulnerable families across the 774 local government in the country, the group agreed to conduct the supply in stages, especially given locked down imposed by the Federal Government during the period.
The statement reads, “Members of the Private Sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) wish to call for calm, amidst the looting of COVID-19 palliatives meant for distribution in various State Government warehouses across the country.
“The Coalition is deeply concerned by the recent events and is urging those involved in the wanton destruction of public and private property to immediately desist from these raids, in order to allow the States to proceed with a peaceful and fair distribution of these palliatives to the neediest and most vulnerable in our society.
“Over the past few months, the private sector, through CACOVID has been working with governors, the FCT Minister, and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to procure, deliver, and distribute these food relief items to almost 2 million most vulnerable families (over 10 million Nigerians) across the 774 local government areas of the country, as part of the private sector’s support towards the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The sheer scale of this nationwide food programme and the timing of the orders and deliveries, which coincided with the lockdowns and reduced movement across the country, compelled CACOVID to roll out distribution in a staggered manner.
“The very large size of the order and the production cycle required to meet the demand caused delays in delivering the food items to the states in an expeditious manner; hence, the resultant delay in delivery of the food palliatives by the state governors.”
Makinde Directs Schools to Reopen After #EndSARS Protest
Schools to Reopen After #EndSARS Protest, Says Governor Makinde
The Executive Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has directed schools across the Ibadan metropolis to resume normal activities immediately after the #EndSARS protest.
Mr Olasunkanmi Olaleye, the commissioner for education, Oyo State, disclosed this in a statement issued on Sunday in Ibadan.
According to Olaleye, the directive was after a careful review of the situation in the Ibadan metropolis as promised by Governor Makinde in a state broadcast on October 20.
This was after the governor ordered the closure of all schools, private and public, in the Ibadan metropolis for three days and promised to review the situation on October 23.
Olaleye said the governor thanks the youths who have been cooperating with security operatives in the state to ensure peace and order.
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