Supreme Court judgment: Kalu, Udeogu still in prison

Five days after the Supreme Court voided their conviction, a former Abia State Governor, Orji Kalu, and ex-director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu, are still in Kuje custodial centre.

Our correspondent gathered that the order for Kalu and Udeogu’s release from prison had not been served on the Nigeria Correctional Service as at 4pm on Tuesday.

A source at the custodial centre said, “As of 4pm on Tuesday when we left the office, the order for their release had not been received by the service headquarters or the officer-in-charge of the custodial centre in Kuje.

“The directive from the authorities was that the release warrant and the judgment must be served on the NCoS headquarters, but this was not done before we closed; Kalu and Udeogu are still in Kuje custodial facility.”

The NCoS spokesman, Austin Njoku, had earlier said the two men would not be released until the orders for their discharge had been received.

Njoku did not respond to several calls to his phone. He had yet to return the calls and an SMS seeking his comment on the continued detention of the appellant and Kalu.

A Lagos division of the Federal High Court had last year found the former governor guilty of stealing N7.1bn and sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment, while Udeogu bagged 10 years.

But Udeogu challenged the propriety of a Court of Appeal judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, trying him, insisting that a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, lacked the powers to issue a fiat to any appellate judge to try him.

He also alleged that Bulkachuwa erred in law under Section 396(7) of the Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which he said was non-existent.

The Supreme Court in its judgment held that the trial court acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Udeogu.

Checks indicate that the apex court judgment only covered the appellant, Udeogu, and Kalu was expected to file an appeal and also benefit from the judgment.