A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the release of erstwhile governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, from jail.
Recall Kalu was sentenced to a 12-year jail term on December 5, 2019, after he was convicted of the 39 counts charge, including a N7.1bn fraud, pressed against him by the Economic and Financial and Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his firm
He had been convicted alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and a former Director of Finance at the Abia State Government House, Jones Udeogu.
On May 8, however, the Supreme Court had reversed former governor’s conviction on grounds of technicalities ordering a retrial.
In its ruling, the apex court had held that the Justice Mohammed Idris who handled the case lacked jurisdiction considering he had been promoted to the Court of Appeal as of the time the judgement was delivered.
Kalu, consequent upon the nullification of his conviction by the apex court, had filed an application at the federal court seeking an order for his release from the custody of the NCS at Kuje, Abuja.
The had fixed June 2 to hear the former governor’s request for release from the prison.
Speaking on Tuesday, Kalu’s counsel, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), appealed to Justice Mohammed Liman to the release of Kalu from prison custody, citing the Supreme Court’s ruling.
He said: “Our application is brought pursuant to Section 159 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. This is a fallout of the Supreme Court decision delivered on the 8th of May.”
Reacting to Fagbemi’s request, the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said the anti-graft agency would not, in principle, oppose Fagbemi’s application for Kalu’s release from prison.
He 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; losing more time will be dangerous for us.”
The judge had consequently ordered the release of the former governor given the EFCC did not oppose his request.