Justice Mohammed Liman of a Federal High Court in Lagos will on June 2 hear a motion filed by a former Abia State Governor and Senate’s Chief Whip, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, seeking his immediate release from prison.
In the motion on notice, the former governor is asking the court to set aside his trial over alleged N7.1 billion fraud and subsequent conviction by Justice Mohammed Idris (now of the Court of Appeal).
The motion for Charge No FHC ABJ/CR 56/2007, which was brought pursuant to Section 180 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), was signed by Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) on behalf of 11 other lawyers.
They are: Awa Kalu (SAN), Chris Uche (SAN), Dr. U. Olatoke (SAN), Chief H.O Afolabi (SAN), Sylvester Elema (SAN), Ikoro N. A. Ikoro, Omosanya Popoola, C. Obidike, Nnamdi Awa Kalu, Vivien Udora and A. S. Amire.
They argued that no legal basis exists for Kalu’s continued incarceration because the Supreme Court had on May 8, 2020, declared his trial a nullity and freed his co-defendant, Jones Udeogu.
In the motion, Kalu is praying for four reliefs. They are: “An order setting aside the judgement of this Honourable Court dated the 5th day of December, 2019, under the hand of Hon Justice M.B. Idris, JCA the same having been given without jurisdiction:
“An order setting aside the trial and conviction of the applicant– The order of conviction having been made without jurisdiction
“An order setting aside the sentence passed on each of the counts as applicable to the applicant in the 39-count charge in charge No: FHC ABJ/CR 56/2007 – the sentences having been imposed without jurisdiction.
“An order directing that the applicant be released forthwith, from the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service Kuje Abuja FCT.”
The former governor also canvassed five grounds upon which the motion was brought.
They are that, he and his co-defendants “were tried and convicted at the Federal High Court by Justice Idris who in the course of trial was elevated to the Court of Appeal.
“The learned trial judge who conducted the trial has been held to have acted without jurisdiction in Suit No: SC.62C/2019 Udeh Jones Udeogu V Federal Republic of Nigeria, a Supreme Court decision dated the day of May. 2020
“The unassailable position of the law is that any judicial proceedings conducted without jurisdiction, no matter how well conducted, is a nullity
“The joint trial of the applicant with the 2nd and 3rd defendants/respondents having been pronounced a nullity by the Supreme Court, entitles the applicant to a release from his custodial sentence.”