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 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 levelled 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 on the appeal delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, declared that the conviction of the appellants was null and void.
Justice Eko explained that the declaration was on the ground that Justice Mohammed Idris was already a Justice of the Court of Appeal, as at the time he delivered the judgment sentencing Kalu and Udeogu. He held that a Justice of the Court of Appeal cannot operate as a judge of the Federal High Court.
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.