FORMER Abia State governor and current senate chief whip Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has regained his freedom after a Lagos federal high court ordered his release from prison following the recent annulment of the judgement hailing him for fraud.
On May 8, Senator Kalu had his 12 year conviction for corruption and money laundering quashed by the Nigerian Supreme Court on a technicality that he was convicted by the wrong type of court. On December 5, 2019, he has been jailed for 12 years after he was convicted of N7.1bn fraud alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria and a former director of finance at the Abia State government house, Jones Udeogu.
However, the Supreme Court judgment nullified the trial and conviction on the grounds that the judge who handled the case lacked jurisdiction to do so. The Supreme Court’s judgment followed an appeal by Mr Udeogu, contending that the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, concluded the 12-year-old trial and gave judgment after he had been elevated to the Court of Appeal and ceased to be a judge of the federal high court.
Today, Senator Kalu’s counsel, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, successfully urged Justice Mohammed Liman of the Lagos federal high court to the release of the former governor from prison custody based on the pronouncement of the Supreme Court. In response, the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Rotimi Jacobs, said the agency would not, in principle, oppose Mr Fagbemi’s application.
Mr Jacobs said: “But we are also urging the court that the order made by the Supreme Court for trial de novo should be complied with by all parties, so that your lordship will give us a date when arraignment will be done. We want the trial to go on as losing more time will be dangerous for us.”