By Alex Enumah
The Supreme Court has voided the conviction and sentencing of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor-Kalu, on corruption charges.
A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court had lasted year found the former governor guilty of corruption allegations and consequently sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment.
But the apex court in a judgment delivered Friday held that the trial court acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.
The apex court in a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie, 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.
As part of efforts at fast tracking the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, then President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, had issued to newly elevated justices to return to the lower court to conclude cases being tried by them before their elevation.
In the apex court decision, section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which Justice Liman acted upon to convict and sentence Kalu was unconstitutional.
Consequently, the apex court vacated the judgement that convicted the defendants and ordered fresh trial.
More details shortly….