Supreme Court Overturned The Conviction Of Senator Kalu

0
375

Kalu was convicted by the Federal High Court in Lagos in December 2019 after he was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the diversion of N7.65 billion from the state’s treasury when he was governor between 1999 and 2007.

Justice Mohammed Idris, who declared him guilty of the 39 counts charge, sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

Udeh Udeogu who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure was also sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Slok Nigeria Limited, Kalu’s company, was also convicted last year as the court ordered its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.

However, while ruling on an appeal by the defendants on Friday, the Supreme Court overruled the conviction because Idris was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court when he delivered the judgement on the case that was on trial for 12 years.

Idris had been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the conviction and sentencing of the accused, but a fiat was issued by the Court of Appeal President, pursuant to section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, to allow him deliver the judgement.

The seven-member panel of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled the fiat to be unconstitutional on Friday, noting that Idris lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court judge after his elevation.

Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the apex court’s ruling, vacated the lower court’s judgement and ordered a fresh trial of Kalu and the other defendants.

The case will be reassigned by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.

Kalu grateful to Supreme Court

In a statement published after the ruling, Kalu thanked the Supreme Court for its unwavering commitment to the rule of law.

“Despite some moments of distraction and mass hysteria, the Nigerian Supreme Court has remained the veritable compass to the highest ideals of justice attainable in this country.

“This long tradition of the court was exemplified in today’s judgment. I was humbled by the court’s boldness and sense of justice as shown in my case,” he said.

He noted that his story proved that initial injustice done can be caught and ultimately corrected by the nation’s judicial system.

He therefore promised to dedicate himself to ensuring that other people innocently trapped in the nation’s prison system get fair justice just like him.

He said, “A system whereby over 70% of all prison inmates population is made up of people awaiting trial cannot be allowed to continue.

“Situations where innocent people are falsely charged with murder just to get them out of the way does not dignify our country and cannot continue.

“Justice must now mean justice for all. That is my pledge to Nigerians.”

Kalu is currently representing Abia North in the Nigerian Senate, after securing victory in the 2019 elections on the platform of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC).

Kalu was convicted by the Federal High Court in Lagos in December 2019 after he was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the diversion of N7.65 billion from the state’s treasury when he was governor between 1999 and 2007.

Justice Mohammed Idris, who declared him guilty of the 39 counts charge, sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

Udeh Udeogu who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure was also sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Slok Nigeria Limited, Kalu’s company, was also convicted last year as the court ordered its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.

However, while ruling on an appeal by the defendants on Friday, the Supreme Court overruled the conviction because Idris was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court when he delivered the judgement on the case that was on trial for 12 years.

Idris had been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the conviction and sentencing of the accused, but a fiat was issued by the Court of Appeal President, pursuant to section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, to allow him deliver the judgement.

The seven-member panel of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled the fiat to be unconstitutional on Friday, noting that Idris lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court judge after his elevation.

Justice Ejembi Eko, who delivered the apex court’s ruling, vacated the lower court’s judgement and ordered a fresh trial of Kalu and the other defendants.

The case will be reassigned by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.

Kalu grateful to Supreme Court

In a statement published after the ruling, Kalu thanked the Supreme Court for its unwavering commitment to the rule of law.

“Despite some moments of distraction and mass hysteria, the Nigerian Supreme Court has remained the veritable compass to the highest ideals of justice attainable in this country.

“This long tradition of the court was exemplified in today’s judgment. I was humbled by the court’s boldness and sense of justice as shown in my case,” he said.

He noted that his story proved that initial injustice done can be caught and ultimately corrected by the nation’s judicial system.

He therefore promised to dedicate himself to ensuring that other people innocently trapped in the nation’s prison system get fair justice just like him.

He said, “A system whereby over 70% of all prison inmates population is made up of people awaiting trial cannot be allowed to continue.

“Situations where innocent people are falsely charged with murder just to get them out of the way does not dignify our country and cannot continue.

“Justice must now mean justice for all. That is my pledge to Nigerians.”

Kalu is currently representing Abia North in the Nigerian Senate, after securing victory in the 2019 elections on the platform of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC).

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here