Tuesday, June 2, 2020 3:55 pm
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has explained why it did not oppose move by Orji Uzor Kalu to leave prison where he was serving a 12-year jail term following his conviction of theft of the sum of N7.65billion belonging to the Abia State Government last year.
Speaking in court during the hearing of Kalu’s application to leave prison on Tuesday, EFCC prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacob SAN said the anti –graft agency did not oppose the application because its fodcus is now on a fresh trial of the case against the former governor ordered by the Supreme Court.
Subsequently, Federal High Court ordered immediate release of Kalu from prison after listening to the argument and submission of the former governor’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN who led four other lawyers.
The presiding Judge, Mohammed Liman further ordered that the trial of the former Governor should start afresh alongside that of the former Director of finance in Abia State Government house ,Ude Jones Udeogu in line with the judgment of the Supreme Court.
He also ordered that EFCC to take steps for Kalu’s re-arraignment so that his trial can start afresh.
Orji is serving a 12-year jail term at the Correctional Service Centre in Kuje, Abuja for looting N7.65billion belonging to the Abia State Government.
The former Governor, now a Senator, had hired a 12-man team of lawyers, to file application for his release on May 12 asking the court to nullify his conviction and order his release from prison.
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) 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 exists for his continued incarceration following the Supreme Court’s judgment which declared the whole trial a nullity and freed Udeogu.