A former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, is in a celebratory mood as the Supreme Court Friday quashed the judgement that convicted and sentenced him to a 12-year imprisonment.
In a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel led by Justice Amina Augie, the Supreme Court said the Federal High Court in Lagos acted without jurisdiction when it convicted Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and a former Director of Finance in Abia State, Jones Udeogu.
The court said presiding judge, 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 Kalu and co for allegedly stealing about N7.1 billion from Abia State treasury.
The apex court said Justice Liman, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the ruling, lacked the powers to return to sit as a High Court Judge. The seven-man panel ruled that the Fiat that was issued to him by the Court of Appeal President pursuant to section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act was unconstitutional.
Thus, the Supreme Court vacated the judgement that convicted the defendants and ordered a fresh trial of the defendants.