Reprieve came the way of the former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu as the Supreme Court on Friday nullified his trial alongside others.
The former governor, alongside others had been convicted in December and sentenced for an alleged N7.1bn fraud.
It would be recalled that Justice Mohammed Idris, who had been elevated to the Court of Appeal bench, returned to the Federal High Court in Lagos to complete the case which started in 2007, sentencing Kalu to 12 years imprisonment for the fraud he allegedly perpetrated during his tenure as Abia State governor.
However, the apex court in a unanimous judgment on Friday led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, nullified the entire trial on the grounds that the constitution does not permit a judge elevated to a higher court to return to a lower court to conclude a part-heard case.
According to Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the lead judgment, the trial was unconstitutional because of the provision of section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, on which the then President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa (retd), relied on to authorise Justice Idris to return to the Court of Appeal to conclude the trial.
The Supreme Court panel unanimously directed the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to assign the case to another judge of the court for the trial to commence afresh.
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