Legal battle to secure Orji Kalu’s release starts today

Orji Uzor Kalu

By Akin Kuponiyi 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos  south west Nigeria will today commence the hearing of application filed by team of lawyers on behalf of former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu to secure his release.
This follows the Supreme Court judgement of May 8, 2020 which declared that the Judge who sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment had no jurisdiction to do so.
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 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria  hired a 12-man team of lawyers, including six Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to secure his release.
The application pending before Justice Mohammed Liman was filed  on May 12 asking the court to nullify his conviction was fixed for today for hearing.
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, while Kalu was asked to spend 12 years in prison.
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 retried.
Therefore, Kalu, who was not part of the appeal, decided to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the Supreme Court’s judgment which declared the whole trial a nullity and freed Udeogu to contend that no legal basis exists for his continued incarceration.