*Former governor of Abia State, Senator Kalu was convicted and jailed for 12 years by the EFCC, but has temporary respite courtesy of Nigeria’s Supreme Court after over five months in prison
The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), formerly known as Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), the federal government agency, which operates prisons across the country has explained why it has not released a former Abia State Governor, Orji Kalu, from their Kuje custody. It said NCS was yet to receive a warrant for his release from the Supreme Court.
Orji Kalu, now a serving Senator was the governor of Abia State for eight years. It was however eight wasted years of some sort as Kalu and his cohorts plundered the state after which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) picked him up for financial crimes involving over N7billion. He was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison. But, over five months of his time in prison, and to the surprise of all and sundry, the Supreme Court, which is the apex court in Nigeria quashed the case and ordered a retrial of the case.
Kalu was a strong Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is the political party on which he contested and won elections that enabled him rule Abia State as a two-term governor. When the heat of the EFCC became too hot for him and with the verbal political promise of the Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshimhole to forgive the sins of any politician that defected to the APC especially from the PDP, the like of Kalu and Senator Victor Akpabio both of who are facing the EFCC prosecution actually dumped the PDP for the APC to curry favour from the ruling party.
It would be recalled that a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court had last year found the former governor guilty of stealing N7.1 billion and sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment. But the Supreme Court in its judgment held that the trial court acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.
The Supreme Court in a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie, noted that the trial judge, Justice Liman, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal before then, lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge to deliver judgment in Kalu’s trial. He held that a Justice of the Court of Appeal cannot operate as a judge of the Federal High Court and ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to reassign the case for trial.
However, most Nigerians believe that the decision of the Supreme Court seems like a fulfilment of the Oshimhole promise that the APC really does not care about the stealing by politicians in the country as far as such political figures belong to the APC just as a lot of people are wondering why again, the Supreme Court would allow itself to be used to free a man who plundered over N7billion that belongs to Abia State.
However, the EFCC who described the ruling as a surprise vowed to head back to court for the retrial of Kalu as ordered by the Supreme Court.