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Abia ex-finance director gets post-conviction bail

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The Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday granted post-conviction bail to a former Director of Finance and Account at the Abia State Government House, Jones Udeogu, who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment last December.

He was convicted of a N7.1 billion fraud and jailed alongside his principal and erstwhile governor of the state, Orji Uzor Kalu, who bagged 12 years in prison.

Following an application by his counsel, Chief Solomon Akuma (SAN), Justice Mohammed Liman granted a N50 million post-conviction bail to Udeogu pending the determination of his appeal against the December 5, 2019 judgment of Justice Mohammed Idris, who sent him to prison.

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Akuma told the judge that his client was suffering from prostate cancer and tuberculosis.
The senior lawyer told the judge that Udeogu was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago at the Abia State Teaching Hospital and that in the course of carrying out tests on him, the hospital also discovered that he had tuberculosis.

He said his client was still making arrangement to book a date for surgery when he was convicted and sent to prison last December.

In an affidavit filed in support of the post-conviction bail application, one Lazarus Agu said the correctional centre where Udeogu is serving his jail term “does not have a facility to provide the type of medical attention Udeogu requires to survive the ailments he is suffering from.”

In his ruling, Justice Liman said he was satisfied that Udeogu had disclosed reasonable cause of action to qualify for a post-conviction bail.

The judge said: “I am of the opinion that this application has disclosed reasonable cause of action that the defendant’s health has greatly deteriorated and it cannot be salvaged by the doctor in the correctional service centre. Accordingly, this application is meritorious and succeeds.”

He granted the N50 million bail with two sureties in like sum.

The judge had on December 23, 2019 rejected a similar application by Kalu seeking a post-conviction bail pending the outcome of his appeal against his conviction.

In his own application, Kalu had urged Justice Liman to release him on bail on the grounds that he was battling some health challenges, which the medical facilities in the prison could not handle.

Besides, Kalu, who is the lawmaker representing Abia North at the National Assembly, prayed the court to release him on bail in the interest of his constituents so he could continue to represent their interest in the legislature.

But Justice Liman declined the application and held that it lacked merit.

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