Finally, Orji Kalu regains freedom, leaves Kuje Prison

A former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, has regained freedom following his release from Kuje Custodial Centre by the Nigeria Correctional Service on Wednesday.

This was in obedience to the Tuesday order of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday.

The NCoS spokesman, DCC Austin Njoku, confirmed the development.

He stated, “Ex-governor Orji Kalu was released from custody at exactly 5.05 pm on Wednesday. He was discharged after we received the court warrant on his release.”

When asked about Kalu’s six-month stay in prison, Njoku described him as “a well-behaved inmate; he did not give us any trouble at all.”

Kalu was jailed for 12 years on December 5,2019, after he was convicted of N7.1bn fraud alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Ltd., and a former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.

Orji is serving a 12-year jail term at the Correctional Service Centre in Kuje, Abuja for looting N7.65 billion belonging to the Abia State Government.

The former Governor hiired a 12-man team of lawyers, to file application for his release.

The application pending before Justice Mohammed Liman was filed on May 12 asking the court to nullify his conviction sentence and release him.

The court also ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediately put machinery in motion for the retrial of the former governor.

The court further ordered that his trial should start afresh alongside the former Director of Finance in Abia State Government House, Ude Jones Udeogu in line with the judgement of the Supreme Court that declared Udeogu’s trial, conviction and sentence a nullity.

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.

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 the retrial of his case.

However, Kalu who was not part of this appeal contended that no legal basis existed for his continued incarceration following the Supreme Court’s judgment which declared the whole trial a nullity and freed Udeogu.

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