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Court orders release of Senator Orji Kalu from jail [Update]

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the release of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu from jail.

Senator Kalu, it could be recalled, was to sentenced to a maximum 12 years imprisonment for the fraud, among other multiple sentences ranging from 3 years to 5 years on 27 counts.

Justice Mohammad Idris convicted him along with and two other accomplices, including a company he owned, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Mr. Jones Udeogu.

Mr. Udeogu was the Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor.

The accomplices got multiple sentences between 10 years and 3 years.

The judge also ordered that Slok be wound up and its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.

The Supreme Court, however, on May 8, 2020, overturned the conviction of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie, held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.

It held that 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 stealing from Abia state treasury.

Following the Supreme Court judgment, however, the senator remained in jail as he was yet to be released forcing him to head back to court.

Senator Orji went back to the Federal High Court, Lagos with about 6 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, led by Prince Lateef Fagbemi.

Fagbemi argued that the Supreme Court on May 8, 2020 stated that Justice Idris who was elevated to the Appeal court on June 20, 2018, lacked jurisdiction to continue to sit and conclude the trial of his co-accused person, Mr Ude Udeogu.

The learned senior advocates also drew the attention of the court on the judgement which voided section 396 subsection 7 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which Justice Idris relied upon to continue and conclude the matter.

The Lagos Court, therefore, on Tuesday, ordered that Kalu be release from jail.

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