Court orders release of Orji Kalu from jail

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Court orders release of Orji Kalu from jail
Court orders release of Orji Kalu from jail

The Federal High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday, ordered the immediate release of former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu from Kuje prison.

The court also ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to immediately put machinery in motion for the retrial of the former governor.

The court further ordered that his trial should start afresh alongside the former Director of Finance in Abia State Government  House, Ude Jones Udeogu in line with the judgement of the Supreme  Court that declared Udeogu’s trial, conviction and sentence a nullity.

The presiding Judge, Mohammed Liman made the order after listening to the argument and submission of Kalu’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN leading four other lawyers.

EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacob, SAN, did not oppose the application, as he told the court that he did not want to waste any time for the trial to start afresh.

In his ruling, Justice justice Liman said, the application of the applicant, Orji Uzor Kalu was meritorious and hereby granted accordingly as prayed, and that he should be released from the Kuje correctional services.

He also ordered that EFCC should take steps for his re-arraignment so that his trial could start afresh.

Orji is serving a 12-year jail term at the Correctional Service Centre in Kuje, Abuja for looting N7.65 billion belonging to the Abia State Government.

The former Governor now a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria hired a 12-man team of lawyers, to file an application for his release.

The application pending before Justice Mohammed Liman was filed on May 12 asking the court to nullify his conviction sentence and release him.

Justice Mohammed Idris who was elevated to Court of Appeal, on December 5, 2019, convicted Kalu and a former Director of Finance in the Abia State Government House, Ude Jones Udeogu of the offence of fraud.

Udeogu was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
However, following Udeogu’s appeal, the Supreme Court on May 8, 2020, declared that the fiat issued to Justice Idris to conclude the case after he had been elevated to the Court of Appeal was “a nullity”.
The apex court set aside Idris’ verdict “as it relates to the appellant (Udeogu)’s conviction.
Consequently, the court ordered that Udeogu should be released and the retrial of his case.
However, Kalu who was not part of this appeal contended that no legal basis existed for his continued incarceration following the Supreme Court’s judgment which declared the whole trial a nullity and freed Udeogu.