Former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu is still detained in Kuje Prison despite Supreme Court’s judgement that nullified his trial and 12-years conviction.
KanyiDaily recalls that Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos had on December 5, 2019, sentenced Orji Kalu to 12 years’ imprisonment for N7.2 billion fraud and money laundering.
However, his legal team had challenged the conviction, arguing that Mohammed Idris, the judge who handed down the ruling, lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case because he had been elevated to the appeal court at the time he sentenced Kalu to prison.
In a unanimous judgment on Friday, May 8, 2020, the Supreme Court nullified the entire trial and conviction on the grounds that the constitution does not permit a judge elevated to a higher court to return to a lower court to conclude a part-heard case.
Four days after the verdict, the former Abia governor is still in his prison cell as prison authorities claim that no release order was issued by the supreme court for his release.
The Public Relations Officer of Nigerian Correctional Service (Kuje Prisons), DCC Austin Njoku, told Vanguard in a telephone interview on Monday night that the NCoS was yet to receive the certified true copy of the judgement of the apex court authorising the said release from its custody. He said:
“How can we refuse to release him? What is our business with the judgement 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 judgement 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.”
There have been some online reports that Kalu was still being held at Kuje Prisons because he was a respondent and not an appellant in the case that the apex court decided on Friday.