FORMER Abia State governor Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has resumed his duties as the chief whip of the Nigerian senate six months after being convicted of fraud and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by a Lagos federal high court.
Between 1999 and 2007, Senator Kalu served as the Abia State governor and it is his actions while in office that were probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In February this year, Senator Kalu, 59, was elected as the senator representing Abia North Senatorial District with a margin of over 10,000 votes despite the pending corruption charges against him.
On December 5 2019, Senator Kalu was sentenced to 12 years in jail after being found guilty of fraud to the tune of N7.65bn ($21m). He was convicted alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria and a former director of finance at the Abia State government house, Jones Udeogu.
However, on May 8 this year, his conviction for corruption and money laundering quashed by the Nigerian Supreme Court on a technicality that he was convicted by the wrong type of court. Senator Orji was released after the Supreme Court ruled that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted him had been elevated to the Court of Appeal bench, so thus had no jurisdiction to hear his case.
In a unanimous decision, a seven-man panel of the Nigerian Supreme Court led by Justice Amina Augie held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Senator Kalu. Last month, Senator Kalu was released after over six months of incarceration at the Kuje Correctional Centre.
This morning at around 9am, Senator Kalu resumed normal legislative duties at the National Assembly complex as the chief whip of the Nigerian senate. He exchanged pleasantries with his colleagues and acknowledged greetings from legislative staff and security operatives, describing his experience as a good one.
Senator Kalu said: “I just want to thank God for everything that has happened. It is the will of God and I want to urge Nigerians to keep hope alive.”