Kamarudeen Ogundele, Abuja
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, has dismissed an appeal filed by Slok Nigeria Limited challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Lagos which convicted former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor-Kalu.
Kalu, Slok and a former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogo; were convicted on December 4 for a N7.1bn fraud.
While Kalu got 12 years imprisonment, Udeogo was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
That was in a criminal charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before Justice Mohammed Liman.
They were convicted for defrauding the Government of Abia State when Uzor-Kalu was governor for eight years using Slok Nigeria Limited.
The appellants had approached the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the trial court for lack of jurisdiction.
The appellants are Slok and Udeogo while the respondents are the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Federal Republic of Nigeria, the EFCC and Uzor-Kalu.
They contended that the Federal High Court Lagos lacked the jurisdiction to try them.
But the three-member panel in a judgment prepared and read by Justice Olabisi Ige on Wednesday dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.
The court held that section 98(3) and (4) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 were not applicable to the appellants’ case.
It held that petition must relate to allegation of wrong doing by the trial judge and that letter written by the EFCC in this case could not be said to be a petition.
The judge said, “Nothing is perversed with the decision of the trial court. The complaint of the appellants is a non-issue.
“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 upper court held that the appellants did not show mala fide by the chief judge and EFCC.
Besides, it held that the transfer did not curtail the Appellants right, adding that there was no element of forum-shopping in the case.
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