The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC on Thursday asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to transfer to its Lagos division, the fresh trial of former Abia State Governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and two others in an alleged 7.1 billion naira fraud.
The motion on notice seeking the transfer was brought pursuant to sections 18, 19, 22 and 45 of the Federal High Court Act 2010 and section 93 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
The motion prayed for an order of the Federal High Court in Abuja, transferring the case with charge number FHC/ABJ/CR/56/2007 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Orji Uzor Kalu and two others to the Lagos division of the court.
Two others on the motion paper are Jones Udeogo and Sloks Nigeria Limited, an alleged family company of Senator Kalu.
Oluwaleke Atolagbe, counsel to EFCC said the motion was predicated on 5 grounds among which are that the Abuja division of the Federal High Court lacked the requisite territorial jurisdiction to entertain and try the defendants in the instant charge.
Another ground for seeking transfer of the trial was that the charge was preferred against Orji Uzor Kalu, Slok Nigeria Limited and Ude Jones Udeogu at the Federal High Court Abuja sometime in number 2007 by the EFCC, following an investigation by the commission.
The motion further indicated that after taking their plea, the defendant brought an application challenging the competence of the charge and contending that there was no prima facie case against them.
It was also contended that following the decision of the Supreme Court that many of the ingredients of the offences against them occurred in Lagos and even most of the witnesses who are bank workers reside in Lagos, the EFCC applied to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to transfer the matter to Lagos.
Satisfied that many of the ingredients of the offences occurred in Lagos the Chief Judge transferred the case to the Lagos division of the court where the defendants were prosecuted and judgment delivered in the matter.
He, therefore, asked Justice Ekwo to issue an order transferring the trial to Lagos in compliance with the Supreme Court order.
When the matter came on Thursday, Justice Inyang Ekwo said that he would not be able to take the application in view of the approaching Easter holidays.
The Judge consequently fixed May 17, 2022 for determination of the application.
At the proceedings, Prof. Awa Kalu SAN stood for former governor Kalu, Mr Solo Akuma SAN stood for Jones Udeogu while Goddy Uche SAN, stood for Slok Nigeria Limited.
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