The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered for the release of former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, from correctional center.
Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court in Lagos gave the order, Tuesday 2nd June, 2020, following the lawmaker’s application for release moved by his counsel Lateef Fagbemi.
“Our application is brought pursuant to Section 159 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act,” Mr Fagbemi, a senior advocate of Nigeria, said.
“This is a fallout of the Supreme Court decision delivered on the 8th of May.”
Responding, Rotimi Jacobs, the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the prosecution, said the anti-graft agency would not oppose Mr Fagbemi’s application “in principle.”
“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, losing more time will be dangerous for us,” Mr Jacobs, a senior advocate of Nigeria, added.
In his ruling, Mr Liman set aside the trial, conviction and prison sentence on Mr Kalu, while he also squashed Justice Mohammed Idris’ verdict on Slok Nigeria Limited.
Mr Idris had ordered the winding up of Slok Nigeria Limited and ordered that its assets be forfeited to the federal government.
Justice Liman commended the EFCC prosecutor for his “practical approach” to the case by choosing not to oppose the application, thereby saving the court time and the rigour of going to trial.
He directed that steps should be taken for the commencement of a fresh trial.
Senator Kalu, a two-term former governor of Abia State, had urged the court to set aside his conviction on December 5, 2019, by Justice Mohammed Idris.
He explained that this became necessary since the Supreme Court, in its verdict delivered on May 8, 2020, held that Justice Idris gave the judgment without jurisdiction.
Kalu was to serve 12 years in prison, after he was convicted of N7.1bn fraud alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and a former Director of Finance at the Abia State Government House, Jones Udeogu.
The Supreme Court had ruled that since Justice Idris was elevated to the Court of Appeal, he had no jurisdiction to have concluded Kalu’s trial.
The apex court, therefore, nullified the conviction and ordered a retrial.