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Supreme Court revokes Orji Uzor Kalu's 12-year prison sentence for fraud

The Supreme Court on May 8, 2020 revoked the conviction of The former Abia State Governor, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu.

Kalu who was convicted in December 2019 by the Federal High Court in Lagos, after he was indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)  for diverting N7.65 Billion from the State's Treasury during his 8-year tenure has governor of the State (Abia State).

Justice Mohammed Idris declared him guilty of the 39 counts charges, and sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
The Director of Finance and Accounts Udeh Udeogu, was also sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Kalu's Slok Nigerian Limited, was also convicted, which the court ordered a forfeiture of its assets to the Federal Government.

Nonetheless, while ruling on an appeal by the defendants on Friday, the Supreme Court overruled the conviction on the grounds that Idris was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court when he delivered the judgement on that was on trial for 12 years.

Idris who had been elevated at the time of the conviction and sentencing was allowed to deliver the Judgement, because a fiat was issued by the Court of Appeal President, in accordance with the section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

The seven-member panel of the Supreme Court incomplete accordance ruled the fiat to be unconstitutional, considering that Idris lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge after his elevation.

Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the Supreme Court's ruling, resigned the High Court's judgement and ordered a fresh trial of Kalu and the other defendants.

The case will be reassigned by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.

In a statement published after the ruling, Kalu appreciated the Supreme Court for its resolute commitment to the rule of law.
Despite some moments of distraction and mass hysteria, the Nigerian Supreme Court has remained the veritable compass to the highest ideals of justice attainable in this country.
"This long tradition of the court was exemplified in today's judgment. I was humbled by the court's boldness and sense of justice as shown in my case," he said.
He noted that his story proved that initial injustice done can be caught and eventually corrected by the nation's judicial system.
He therefore promised to dedicate himself to making sure other people innocently trapped in the nation's prison system get fair justice just like him.
He said, "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.
"Justice must now mean justice for all. That is my pledge to Nigerians."
Kalu presently Represents Abia North on the Platform of the All Progressives Congress(APC), after winning at the 2019 polls.

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