After playing hide-and-seek with the law for almost nine years, former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu on Friday lost his bid to have the money laundering charge against him quashed as the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal for lacking in merit.
A similar appeal by an associate of the ex-governor, Udeh Jones Udehogo, was also dismissed by the apex court on similar ground.
Kalu, who governed Abia from 1999-2007, in his appeal, sought to quash the 107-count charge of corruption brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The charges bordered on the alleged complicity of Mr. Kalu in money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds to the tune of N5.6billion when he was governor.
Though the anti-graft agency docked him before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court shortly after he left office in 2007, the ex-governor, through various interlocutory applications, frustrated moves by the prosecution to open its case against him.
The defendant firstly challenged the competence of the charge against him, as well as the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear and determine the case.
However, following refusal by the trial court to quash the charge, Kalu approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
The appellate court, in a unanimous judgment, upheld the competence of the charge, adding that the high court was constitutionally empowered to exercise jurisdiction on the trial.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, the former governor went to Supreme Court, begging it to set-aside the concurrent findings of the two lower courts.
Delivering lead judgments in both appeals, Justice Suleiman Galadima, upheld the concurrent decisions of the Federal High Court, Abuja and Appeal Court, Abuja.
The apex court ruled that it was satisfied that the former governor has a case to answer pertaining to allegations that were levelled against him by the EFCC.
The five-man panel of the apex court ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to re-assign the case to another Judge to enable the trial to commence de-novo (afresh).
The Supreme Court also ordered accelerated hearing of the matter.