A former Abia State governor, Orji Kalu, has reacted to the Supreme Court judgement which voided his conviction and 12 years jail over alleged N7.1bn public fund misappropriation.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that the apex court, in a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices led by Justice Amina Augie, held that the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Mr Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.
It held that trial Justice Mohammed Liman was no longer a judge of the Federal High Court as at the time he sat and delivered the judgement that convicted the defendants for allegedly stealing about N7.1billion from Abia state treasury.
Reacting to the judgement, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Friday disclosed that it would retry the former governor, describing the Supreme Court judgement as a technical ambush.
However, Mr Kalu, in a statement he personally signed shortly after the apex court judgement, said: “the judgment has reaffirmed the ideals of fair hearing and equity in the nation’s legal system.”
The senator added that his five-month stint in the Correctional Centre had taught him the true meaning of love.
The statement read: “Today, the Supreme Court of Nigeria gave a judgment in my favor, quashing the conviction which the lower court had entered against me. By today’s judgment, the Apex court of our dear country affirmed my right to fair hearing and equal protection of the law.
“The past five months have been quite a profound period for me. As challenging as that period has been, it has provided me an opportunity to learn invaluable lessons about our country, our peoples, our justice system and the true meaning of love. I mean love for family, love for our country and love for humanity.
“Throughout the dark era of military rule in Nigeria, the Supreme Court neither wavered nor flinched in its commitment to justice and fairness.
“And despite some moments of distraction and mass hysteria, the Nigerian Supreme Court has remained the veritable compass to the highest ideals of justice attainable in this country.
“This long tradition of the court was exemplified in today’s judgment. I was humbled by the court’s boldness and sense of justice as shown in my case.
“Overall, my experience tested and reaffirmed my belief and confidence in our country, Nigeria. My case is a true Nigerian story with a bold MADE-IN-NIGERIA stamp on it. It is a story of initial injustice that was caught and ultimately corrected. It is a story of restoration.
“It is a story of how a wrong was righted and how justice and truth prevailed in the end. It is a story of the power of hope.
“My case should teach us all that even though we may not get things right at the first attempt, with patience and dedication, we shall get them right eventually.
“That is the lesson of my case and that is the lesson of our country – that with dedication and patience, we shall place Nigeria in its rightful place eventually.”
The senator assured that he would commit to securing justice for millions of Nigerians who have suffered unfairly.
According to him: “I have come to know that the course of justice will not be complete if it stopped at my case. It must continue until it touches the lives of millions of Nigerians who face injustice anywhere in this world.
“I shall be dedicating my time henceforth to ensuring there will be justice for all Nigerians whether they are in Sokoto or Akwa Ibom or in Lagos or Maiduguri or in Jos or Enugu, or wherever they may be. Justice for one man or for a few people will no longer be enough in this country.
“A system whereby over 70% of all prison inmate population is made up of people awaiting trial cannot be allowed to continue.
“Situations where innocent people are falsely charged with murder just to get them out of the way do not dignify our country and cannot continue. Justice must now mean justice for all. That is my pledge to Nigerians.”