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Orji Kalu anchors bail application on ground to see his herbalist

Convicted and jailed former Governor of Abia State and serving Senator Orji Uzo Kalu, Tuesday through his lead counsel, Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) informed the court of a bail application seeking to be released on bail to attend to his health with a herbalist, pending the outcome of his appeal against the judgement.

However, EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), opposed the bail application, saying “Although bail is generally a right of an accused as guaranteed by the Constitution, it is not a right available to a convict because the presumption of innocence had crystslised into guilt and conviction.”

On the issue of needing to see his traditional healer, Jacobs argued that “He says he needs his herbalist to treat him but he has not said that his herbalist came to the prison and was not allowed to see him.

“In one breath, the applicant is saying that he wants to be released on health grounds while in another breath, he is saying that as a senator, he needs to be released on bail so as to carry out his official functions,” he said.

Relying on the case of Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs. Joshua Dariye, EFCC lead counsel recalled that the Nigerian criminal jurisprudence was robust enough to handle appeal and dispense with same within a reasonable time.

Besides, he argued that the medical facilities at the Ikoyi Custodial Centre were capable of handling Kalu’s medical condition.

The trial judge adjourned the case until Dec. 23 for ruling on the bail application.

Recall that Justice Mohammed Idris had convicted Kalu and sentenced him to a concurrent jail term of 12 years for N7.2 billion fraud following the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pursuit of the case filed since 2007 when he left office as governor of Abia State. The former governor together with a former Commissioner for Finance in Abia,  Jones Udeogo, and his company, Slok Nig. Ltd were tried and conviction gotten.

They were charged on an amended 39 counts of fraud. The trial, which started in 2007, recorded some setbacks but eventually ended in October 2019 when parties in the suit adopted written submissions.

After 12 years of legal battle, on Dec. 5, the judge found all the three defendants guilty. He found Kalu and Slok Nig. Ltd. guilty of all the 39 counts of the charge, and convicted Udeogo on 34 counts.

Whereas the court sentenced Udeogo to a concurrent 10 years’ jail term and ordered that Slok Nig. Ltd. should be wound up and all its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.