Court orders Kalu’s release, sanctions staff for forgery in suit against Ubah
Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday ordered the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) to release former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu from prison.
The judge set aside the trial, conviction and 12-year prison sentence Justice Mohammed Idris handed Kalu on December 5, 2019 and quashed the conviction of his (Kalu’s) firm, Slok Nigeria Limited.
Justice Idris had ordered the winding up of Slok Nigeria Limited and ordered that its assets be forfeited to the Federal Government. Kalu had commenced serving his jail term at the Kuje Correctional Service centre for allegedly looting N7.65b belonging to Abia State, having been convicted alongside Slok and a former Director of Finance and Accounts at Abia State Government House, Ude Jones Udeogu.
Their trial lasted a cumulative 12 years in two Federal High Courts. But on May 8, 2020, the Supreme Court nullified Udeogu’s trial and conviction on the grounds that Justice Idris lacked jurisdiction to handle the matter.
The Apex court allowed Udeogu’s appeal, which argued that Idris, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal, had ceased to be judge of the Federal High Court at the time he ruled on Udeogu and Kalu and ordered Udeogu’s release and retrial.
Although the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), did not, “in principle” oppose Fagbemi’s application but prayed that, “We are also urge the court that the order made by the Supreme Court for trial de novo should be complied with by all parties, so that you will give us a date for arraignment.
Meanwhile, the committee set up by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court to investigate Dr. Obinna Uzor over a forgery case against Ifeanyi Ubah had recommended the dismissal of three officers of the court.
It also recommended demotion of other employees for their role in the forgery of court documents. Uzor was accused of forging documents in connivance with the indicted court officials in a bid to allegedly unseat Ubah as representative of Anambra South Senatorial District.
Consequently, the committee was set up to investigate the allegation and in its report of March 16, 2020, Certified True Copy of which was obtained yesterday, established that the court officials connived with Uzor and his lawyers to forge court documents.
The report signed by its Chairman, Madugu Mohammed Alhaji and Secretary, Aminu Nash Audu revealed that the suit contracted in CV/3044/18 was a fraud and did not exist in the FCT’s High Court record.