A former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, was Thursday convicted of corruption and mismanagement of N7.65 billion public funds. He was sentenced to a 12-year jail term by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, about 12 years after he was first arraigned by the anti-corruption body, EFCC.
His political activities before his conviction and sentencing had been dramatic and seen by some as efforts to stave off life in prison.
Mr Kalu’s first major electoral victory was his election as Abia State governor in 1999.
PREMIUM TIMES brings you a timeline of his sojourn since his first election culminating in his conviction on Thursday.
1999: Mr Kalu was elected governor of Abia State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
2003: He won re-election as governor on the platform of the PDP.
2006: Mr Kalu left the PDP. He joined the PPA, which he founded.
2007: He contested the presidential election on the PPA platform. He also assisted Theodore Orji and Ikedi Ohakim to become governors of Abia and Imo states, respectively, on the PPA platform.
2007 onwards – His corruption trial began, following his arrest by the EFCC in July 2007, after he completed his tenure as governor and thus lost his immunity. He tried to obtain a court order to stop his trial. He accused the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007), of using the anti-graft agency to persecute him.
2007: Mr Kalu also fell out with his successor and former Chief of Staff, Mr Orji, whom he had helped to power. Mr Orji returned to the PDP.
2011 – Mr Kalu contested the Abia North senatorial election as a candidate of PPA, which he then led and served as the Board of Trustees chairman. He lost that election to late Uche Chukwumerije, who served as information minister under dictator Ibrahim Babangida.
2012 – Mr Kalu rejoined the PDP, entering into an in-state rivalry with his former ally, Mr Orji.
2013 – Abia State University, Aturu, withdrew the degree certificate earlier awarded to Mr Kalu while he was the visitor to the institution. The school said at the time the former governor had breached its regulations. The embarrassing episode was at the peak of a long drawn standoff between him and Mr Orji.
2014 – He intensified efforts to get PDP’s nomination to contest the 2015 Abia North senatorial election.
2015 – Clearly seeing he stood no chance in the face of opposition from Mr Orji, he quietly returned to PPA to contest the senatorial election. He lost to Mao Ohabunwa.
2016: The Supreme Court ruled Mr Kalu should go stand trial, nine years after he started a legal battle to stop his prosecution by the EFCC.
2016: In November, he joined Nigeria’s ruling party, the APC. Despite the party’s much-vaunted anti-corruption posture, APC leaders received Mr Kalu with fanfare.
2018: He was turbaned Danbaiwan-Hausa (Gifted son Hausa Kingdom) by the Emir of Daura in President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown.
2019 – He contested the Abia North senatorial election as a candidate of the APC. He won.
December 2019 – He was convicted and jailed 12 years for corruption.