A former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu, has filed a bail application pending his appeal against his jail sentence, TOPNAIJA.NG reports.
A federal high court in Lagos had convicted Kalu of N7.1 billion fraud. Mohammad Idris, the presiding judge, sentenced Kalu to 12 years in prison for money laundering, but the former governor, through his counsel, urged the court to grant him a post-conviction bail on health grounds.
The former governor stood trial on a 39-count charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge also ordered that Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, be liquidated and its assets forfeited to the federal government
In the appeal on Tuesday, Kalu said he is battling “serious health issues that the medical facilities in the prison cannot handle”. He also added that as the senator representing Abia north, “the interest of his constituents would be in jeopardy if he was kept behind bars”.
He said since the offences he was convicted of were bailable, the court should free him while he challenges his conviction at the court of appeal. However, Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the EFCC, opposed the application for post-conviction bail.
Oyedepo said such a bail could be granted in a situation, where the term of imprisonment would have elapsed before the determination of the appeal.
According to him, the medical report tendered in the case was obtained over a year ago.
“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,” he said.
“But that is not the situation in Kalu’s case. There is no recent medical report to show his state of health.”
The EFCC counsel added that the medical facility at the Ikoyi Custodial Centre is capable of handling Kalu’s condition. Mohammed Liman, the presiding judge, adjourned the matter till December 23, 2019, for ruling.
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