The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has praised the Nigerian judiciary for its exhibition of frankness, equity and resolve against corruption in its handling of Orji Uzor Kalu’s trial leading to conviction and appeal on N7.1bn fraud.
In a press release issued by CACOL on behalf of the organization’s Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga, he stated, “We would recollect the arraignment and conviction of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, formerly Abia state governor and one Jones Udeogo, the state’s Director of Finance, accused of using one of his companies, Slok Nigeria Limited to defraud the state of over N7bn (Seven Billion Naira). While Kalu was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment while his accomplice bagged 10 years in jail.
As the governor of Abia state between 1999 and year 2007, Orji Uzor Kalu used his position to divert the state’s lean resources to his private accounts using different fronts and establishing various newspapers like SUN Newspapers and The Telegraph with other companies, particularly his major company, SLOK Nigeria Ltd., which he vicariously used to siphon the state’s resources. Since his trial commenced in 2007, there was no tricks in the books which Orji Kalu did not use to both pervert the course of justice or delay and frustrate his trial. However, he had his date with nemesis on December 4, 2019 when after an elongated, but meticulous and clinical prosecution; he was found guilty of fraudulently defrauding his state as the chief executor of governance in the state.
“Incidentally, rather than be remorseful and contrite after conviction and for him to apologize to the state and its people for letting them down and for making them to bear the pains and indignities attendant to his maladministration and heist, he has furthered his antics by seeking legal loopholes and technicalities to still avert justice through appeal and recourse to insidious tricks, including seeking a post-conviction bail on health grounds and other technicalities. We therefore, commend the Court of Appeal, headed by Justic Muhammed Liman in Abuja and the entire Nigerian judiciary and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for resisting all this and upholding his conviction and denial of his post-conviction bail application on whatever grounds. As far as the Orji Uzor Kalu’s looting of the state’s treasury is concerned, the judiciary has availed itself commendably and shown that no matter how long it may take, the long hands of law would still catch up with treasury looters, irrespective of their connections and social status, coupled with their legal rigmarole.”
The anti-corruption tsar added, “Though the other defendant and co-convict in this matter, Mr. Jones Udeogo, was availed his post-conviction request on medical grounds, we are satisfied with the refusal of the honourable court of the ex-governor’s similar request. Aside the fact that Orji Kalu had enjoyed similar bail offer even while his trial lasted and is on record to have overspent the period of release granted him, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’ as the saying goes. Instead of the former governor to use his privileged position and the trust afforded him by the electorate to better their lots, he converted his position to expropriate and accumulate their commonwealth, thereby denying the people, the opportunities of good and qualitative education, well-equipped medical hospitals, good roads and other social amenities, thereby condemning the state to a life of want, squalor and perennial frustration. This is why any public office holders must be made to know that though they may enjoy immunity from being held to account for their nefarious acts today, they would later be made to face the full wrath of the law to serve as deterrence to others, sooner than later.”