Orji Uzor Kalu [ PHOTO: Vanguard]
Orji Kalu, a Nigerian senator who was jailed for allegedly stealing public funds, has been released from custody.
Mr Kalu, a former Abia State governor, was freed from the Nigerian correctional facility in Kuje, Abuja, on Friday morning, two sources familiar with the development said.
He has now moved to his residence off Queen Amina Street within the perimeter of Aso Rock Presidential Villa, sources said. The sources spoke under anonymity because they were close to Mr Orji and did not get immediate permission from him to disclose his release to the press.
Mr Kalu’s release came moments after the Supreme Court voided his conviction in December 2019 in a multi-billion naira corruption trial.
Mr Kalu had been accused of pilfering and mismanaging funds belonging to Abia State during his days as governor between 1999 and 2007. He pleaded not guilty and appealed his conviction by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
On Friday morning, the Supreme Court deemed Mr Kalu’s conviction inappropriate and ordered a retrial of the case, according to multiple media reports out of the court.
A seven-member panel of the apex court, in a unanimous verdict delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, declared that the conviction null and void, Channels TV reported Friday.
According to the report, Justice Eko declared that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted Mr Kalu, was already a justice of the Court of Appeal, when he ruled and sentenced Mr Kalu and his co-defendant.
He held that a Justice of the Court of Appeal cannot operate as a judge of the Federal High Court, and ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to reassign the case for trial, the report said.