The Supreme Court Friday, nullified the conviction and imprisonment of the former Gov of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, by a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos.
Kalu is currently serving a 12 year prison term in Kuje Prison, Abuja.
The apex court sitting in Abuja, in a unanimous judgement by a seven - man panel headed by by Justice Amina Augie, ruled that the lower court acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.
Senator Kalu was convicted and sentenced to 12 years for allegedly defrauding the government of Abia State where he was a governor for eight years using his company, Slok Nigeria Limited.
However, Kalu in his suit challenged the jurisdiction of the lower court chaired by Justice Mohammed Idris who delivered the sentence.
Counsel to Kalu in his argument at the Court of Appeal said that the judge of the lower court who delivered the judgement lacked the power to do so.
Despite the objections raised by kalu’s counsel, the appeal court judge proceeded with the case and sentenced Senator Kalu.
However, the supreme court in its judgment, set aside the judgement of the court of appeal and ruled that justice Idris having already been elevated to the appeal court lacked the power to sentence Kalu.
It held that Justice Mohammed Liman was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at the time he sat and delivered the judgement, convicting the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1 billion from Abia state coffers.
According to the Supreme Court, Liman, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal bench before then, lacked the powers to sit as a High Court Judge.
It held that the "fiat" issued to him by the Court of Appeal President pursuant to section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act was unconstitutional and then vacated the judgement convicting Kalu and Slok Nigeria Limitee.
On Tuesday, December 5, 2019, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos sentenced Orji Kalu, to 12 years imprisonment over alleged N7.1 billion fraud and money laundering activities.
Liman convicted Kalu, now a senator, on all the 39 counts preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Kalu was charged alongside a former Commissioner for Finance, in the state Jones Udeogo, and his company, Slok Nig. Ltd.
While Kalu and his company were found guilty of all the 39 counts, Udeogo was convicted on 34 counts and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.