The Supreme Court has nullified the judgment which convicted former Abia state governor and serving senator, Orji Uzor Kalu, and Ude Udeogo, the former Director of Finance and Accounts during Kalu’s administration.
Senator, Orji Uzor Kalu, and Ude Udeogo were arrested and jailed for diverting N7.6 billion belonging to the state government during their time in office.
Justice Idris Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court in Lagos on December 12, 2019, sentenced Kalu to 12 years imprisonment after finding him guilty of N7.1bn fraud charges leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Udeogo was also sentenced to 10 years.
Displeased with the judgment of the Federal High Court, Kalu and Udeogu filed an appeal to challenge their sentencing at the Supreme Court.
The apex court, in a unanimous verdict by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie, held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu. It held that trial Justice Mohammed Liman was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at the time he sat and delivered the judgement that convicted the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1billion from Abia state treasury.
The apex court, therefore, ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to reassign the case for trial.
Kalu served as the Governor of Abia State from May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2007.