Barely a week after the Supreme Court nullified the conviction of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and ordered a fresh trial, on grounds that that Judge who gave the ruling was already a Justice of the Court of Appeal when he gave the verdict. The Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District is still cooling his heels at the Kuje Correctional Service.
According to the Nigerian Correctional service, once all conditions to secure the Kalu’s release are met, he would be let go. The service also debunked allegations that it was keeping the lawmaker at the prison owing to certain interests.
The Public Relations Officer of the Service, DCC Austin Njoku, in a telephone conversation withVanguard, said the service is yet to receive the copy of the judgment of the Supreme Court which ordered his release from custody.
He said “How can we refuse to release him? What is our business with the judgment of the court? We have no business in keeping anybody at will. We were not at the Supreme Court. Our own is when they bring the papers for us to release him. The Judgment was just on Friday. If papers are transmitted and his name is mentioned as someone to be released, we will release him. We do not keep people against the law. The law does not permit us to do that. We have no business in keeping him, if they bring the papers to us, we will authenticate the papers to ascertain that it is from a reliable source and we will release him.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC had charged Uzor Kalu and Ude Udeogu, a Director of Finance and Account during Kalu’s tenure as Governor for diversion and conspiracy to the tune of 7.65billon Naira.
Uzor Kalu was sentenced to 12 years on the 5th of December 2019, by Justice Mohammed Idris. The accused however challenged the judgment of the Federal High Court at the Supreme Court.
The ruling came out in his favour after a seven-member panel of the highest court in the land unanimously agreed and dismissed the judgment of Justice Mohammed Idris against Kalu and Udeogu.
In a statement, the former Governor of Abia state had said “My case is a true Nigerian story with a bold MADE-IN-NIGERIA stamp on it. It is a story of initial injustice that was caught and ultimately corrected. It is a story of restoration. It is a story of how wrong was righted and how justice and truth prevailed in the end.
“A system whereby over 70% of all prison inmates’ population is made up of people awaiting trial cannot be allowed to continue. Situations where innocent people are falsely charged with murder just to get them out of the way does not dignify our country and cannot continue.”
But it appears Kalu may not be free yet as the anti-graft agency EFCC expressed dissatisfaction with the judgment in a statement said “the commission is prepared for a fresh and immediate trial of the case because its evidences against Kalu and others are overwhelming. The corruption charges against Kalu still subsists because the Supreme Court did not acquit him of them. The entire prosecutorial machinery of the EFCC would be launched in a fresh trial where justice is bound to be served in due course’
Nigerians are watching and waiting to know what becomes the fate of the embattled Senator representing Abia North.