The former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu, will know two days to Christmas if he will cool his heels in jail during the festive period.
He has filed an application for bail pending his appeal against his jail sentence.
Fearing that the Correctional facility does not have the health infrastructure to manage his health situation, Kalu’s tcounsel sent in his application.
Kalu also raised the issue of representation for his Abia North Senatorial constituents who will be deprived and the fact of his duties as chief whip.
In the application, Kalu, through his lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, claimed that he had health challenges that could not be managed by the medical facilities in the Custodial Centre in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Kalu, in the 34-paragraph further affidavit with one exhibit attached, also argued that the offences for which he was convicted and jailed were bailable.
He, therefore, prayed the court to free him, while he challenges his conviction at the Court of Appeal.
However, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, counsel to the respondent, EFCC, opposed the application for post-conviction bail, saying, “Although bail is generally a right of an accused as guaranteed by the Constitution, it is not a right available to a convict because the presumption of innocence had crystallized into guilt and conviction.
“An application for bail pending appeal is sparingly granted.”
Jacobs further stated that such a bail could be granted in a situation, where the term of imprisonment would have elapsed before the determination of the appeal.
“But that is not the situation in Kalu’s case,” he further said.
According to Jacobs, the medical report tendered in the case was obtained over a year ago.
“There is no recent medical report to show his state of health,” Jacobs added.
Jacobs also argued that the request to be released on bail so as to seek traditional medicine is not tenable, as visitors are allowed into the Custodial Centre.
Jacobs, who said the medical facilities at the Ikoyi Custodial Centre are capable of handling Kalu’s condition, also told the court that “In one breath, the applicant is saying that he wants to be released on health grounds; while in another breath, he is saying that as a Senator, he needs to be released on bail so as to carry out his official functions.”
Recall that the travails of former Governor of Abia State, and Senator for Abia North, Orji Uzor Kalu, worsened last Saturday with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, marking his properties.
The SUN newspaper, which property was among those marked, has opposed the EFCC action citing a court case it filed sho wing it is an entity on its own.
The marking, according to a statement by EFCC’s spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, is to ensure that the properties are not dissipated, following the December 5, 2019 order of Justice Muhammed Idris sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos that Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, be wound up and all assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
Kalu had been arraigned alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeh Udeogu, his Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House, over an amended 39-count charge bordering on conspiring and diverting the sum of N7.65bn from the coffers of the state.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them by the EFCC, thereby leading to their full trial.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, called 19 witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the court.
The defendants, however, testified on behalf of themselves during the trial.
The parties, during the proceedings on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, adopted their final written addresses.
In his final submission, the prosecution counsel, Jacobs, urged the judge to jail the defendants, saying the prosecution had proved the allegations against them.
Jacobs also urged the court to wind up the company as provided by the law and all its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
However, the defence counsel urged the court to “dismiss the charges, acquit and discharge” their clients.