By David Olalekan.
Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos has ordered the immediate release of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, from prison.
This followed a motion on notice filed by the former Abia State governor, seeking release from the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) in Kuje, Abuja, following the nullification of his conviction by the Supreme Court.
Recall that the spokesman of the NCoS, Chuks Njoku, had three weeks ago disclosed that Kalu, the current Senate Chief Whip, was yet to be released from its Kuje custodial facility because there was no warrant for his release.
He said, “We have not received any paper; the order was just made on Friday and we have to get the warrant of release from the Supreme Court. But we have no warrant to release him. The court pronouncement is not enough to release him.
“He would not be released until we get a warrant from the court.”
Having been arraigned alongside Ude Jones Udeogu, a former Abia State Director of Finance and Account on 36 counts of money laundering to the tune of N7.1 billion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Kalu was on December 5, 2019, sentenced to 12 years imprisonment while Udeogu got a 10-year sentence.
The Supreme Court, however, nullified the trial on May 8, 2020, stating that the trial judge, Mohammed Idris, who had been elevated to the Court of Appeal at the time of the case, lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge to deliver judgment in Kalu’s trial.
The Apex Court, in a unanimous judgement by a seven-man panel ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to reassign the case to another judge for retrial.