Orji Uzor Kalu
Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia state, is still in Kuje prison in the federal capital territory (FCT), TheCable reports.
A source confirmed this to TheCable on Monday, saying the supreme court has not sent the warrant of release to the prison authorities.
A federal high court in Abuja had sentenced Kalu, chief whip of the senate, to 12 years in prison after convicting him of money laundering and abuse of office.
However, his legal team had challenged the conviction, arguing that Mohammed Idris, the judge who handed down the ruling, lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case because he had been elevated to the appeal court at the time he sentenced Kalu to prison.
Last week, the supreme court held that the fiat that was issued to Idris by Zainab Bulkachuwa, former president of the court of appeal pursuant to section 396(7) of the administration of criminal justice act (ACJA) was unconstitutional.
Premium Times had earlier reported that two sources familiar with the development confirmed that Kalu, a serving senator, was freed from the Nigerian correctional facility in Kuje, Abuja, on Friday, May 8.
The source also confirmed that he had alsomoved to his residence off Queen Amina street within the perimeter of Aso Rock Presidential Villa.
According to the online medium, the sources spoke under anonymity because they were close to Orji and did not get immediate permission from him to disclose his release to the press.
This information has turned out to be false with this recent development
Kalu had been accused of pilfering and mismanaging funds belonging to Abia state during his days as governor between 1999 and 2007.
He pleaded not guilty and appealed his conviction by the Lagos division of the Federal High Court.
The Supreme Court had quashed the judgement that convicted and sentenced Kalu to 12 years imprisonment.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the Supreme Court nullified the court judgement that sentenced the former governor of Abia state to 12 years imprisonment over alleged corruption.
It was also reported that the apex court nullified Kalu’s conviction in a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie on Friday, May 8.
In his reaction Orji Kalu sent in a statement which reads:
Today, the Supreme Court of Nigeria gave a judgement in my favor, quashing the conviction which the lower court had entered against me. By today’s judgment, the Apex court of our dear country affirmed my right to fair hearing and equal protection of the law.
The past five months have been quite a profound period for me. As challenging as that period has been, it has provided me an opportunity to learn invaluable lessons about our country, our peoples, our justice system and the true meaning of love. I mean love for family, love for our country and love for humanity.
I want to use this moment to thank my family, my colleagues, my friends, my supporters, the people of Abia State, and all Nigerians for their unflinching and unwavering confidence and trust in me through the very testing period. We all know today that their prayers have not been in vain. I also use this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Nigerian Correctional Service for the unalloyed professionalism and sincere humanity extended to me by its staff while I was in their custody.
The panel faulted the conviction of the former governor on the grounds that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu.
The Supreme Court ruled that the trial Justice Mohammed Liman was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at the time he sat and delivered the judgement that convicted the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1billion from Abia state treasury.
The Court said the fiat that was issued to Justice Idris by the Court of Appeal President, pursuant to Section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act was unconstitutional.
A Federal High Court in Lagos had on December 5, 2019 sentenced Orji Kalu, to 12 years’ imprisonment for N7.2 billion fraud and money laundering. The court convicted Kalu, now a senator, on all the 39 counts preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission charge. Kalu was charged alongside a former Commissioner for Finance, in the state Jones Udeogo, and his company, Slok Nig. Ltd. While Kalu and his company were found guilty of all the 39 counts, Udeogo was convicted on 34 counts and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.