The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, SAN, has expressed his displeasure over the Supreme Court’s judgment nullifying the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, and others, who were in December convicted and sentenced for a N7.1bn fraud.
Justice Mohammed Idris, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal bench, had returned to the Federal High Court in Lagos to complete the case, which started in 2007. The case was one of 36 pending cases in the lower court, which were completed by the judge.
Justice Idris sentenced the ex-governor to 12 years imprisonment for the fraud he allegedly perpetrated during his tenure as Abia State governor.
But in a unanimous judgment of the Supreme Court led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, on Friday, the apex court 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.
However, Sagay, while responding to the judgment, told our correspondent that no section of the constitution prevented a judge, who was promoted to a higher court, from continuing to hear pending cases in the lower court.
“(But if) the National Assembly then passes a law that grants the authority to that judge, I think the Supreme Court doesn’t have the power to insist on its own interpretation by referring to the constitution, which has no such provisions,” he added.