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FROM THE PRISON: Thief SINator, Orji Uzor-Kalu Begs Court For Bail Over Illness.

Convicted thief, SINator Orji Kalu.

Former Governor of Abia State and senator representing Abia North, Orji Uzor Kalu has filed application for bail pending his appeal against his jail sentence.

The Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos had on December 5, 2019 jailed Kalu for 12 years after finding him guilty of N7.56 billion fraud, with his company, Slok Nigeria Ltd, which he used to defraud the state, forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The presiding Judge, Mohammed Idris described money laundering offence as a crime against humanity, but Kalu’s  counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), while arguing the bail application drew the attention of the court to the notice of appeal filed by the former Governor to challenge his conviction by the court, telling the court that the grounds upon which the appeal was filed were substantial and very arguable.

He argued that Section 6 of the Constitution empowered the court to hear the motion, saying it was not different from the regular motions for stay of proceedings or injunctions”For now, this is the only court with jurisdiction to entertain this application.  There is no limit to the jurisdiction of a court of record like the Federal High Court to grant a motion like this.

“It is not the law that if someone is convicted, he cannot have reprieve. If the court has power to convict, it must also have power to grant a reprieve pending appeal,” Fagbemi said.

In his response, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, while opposing Kalu’s application contended that the court indeed had the power to grant bail after conviction but faulted claims by Kalu’s lawyer as to the need for the court to grant motion because a substantial and arguable appeal has been lodged against the conviction.

According to him, the issue of a substantial appeal was one that could only be decided by the Appeal Court and as such it should not be a basis for the granting of the application, noting that bail generally “is a right of an accused as guaranteed by the Constitution based on his presumption of innocence, but not granted to a convict because the presumption of innocence is no longer there.”

Oyedepo also faulted the medical reports attached to the motion by Kalu’s lawyer, saying they were obtained by him more than a year ago.

After listening to the submissions of the two parties, Justice Mohammed Liman adjourned till December  23, 2019 for ruling.

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