Orji Kalu, a Nigerian senator who was jailed for allegedly stealing public funds, is expected to be released this week following a Supreme Court ruling, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
Mr Kalu had been accused of pilfering and mismanaging funds belonging to Abia State during his days as governor between 1999 and 2007.
He pleaded not guilty but was sentenced in December 2019 to 12 years in prison. He was jailed alongside his former finance commissioner, Ude Udeogo.
The duo appealed the convictions by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court up to the Supreme Court.
On Friday morning, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial of the case.
A seven-member panel of the apex court, in a unanimous verdict delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, invalidated the conviction.
Justice Eko declared that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted the duo was already a justice of the Court of Appeal, when he ruled and sentenced Mr Kalu and his co-defendant.
He held that a Justice of the Court of Appeal cannot operate as a judge of the Federal High Court, and ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to reassign the case for trial, the report said.
Associates initially told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Kalu was released on Friday after the ruling. Shortly after, the former governor released a statement thanking prison officials for their care while in custody.
On Wednesday, PREMIUM TIMES learned from a top official of the Nigerian Correctional Services that Mr Kalu is actually expected to be released later this week and his release papers will be processed on Thursday. The official did not want to be named as he was not authorised to speak publicly on the matter.
Mr Kalu’s lawyer could not be immediately reached for comments, but another source close to him confirmed he was expected home this week.
Editor’s Note: This post was updated after new details emerged regarding Mr Kalu’s release date.