Law and justice
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Orji Uzor Kalu: A Failed Political Trial Taken Too Far

 

By Kolawole Ojo

 

The audacity of the personalities behind the politically motivated trial of the former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu speaks volumes on the increasing threat to undermine the rule of law, the tenets of democracy and delivery of justice.

 

In December 2019, Mohammed Idris, then a judge of the Federal High Court in Lagos, (now a Justice of the Court of Appeal) sentenced Mr Kalu, to 12 years in prison for N7.1 billion fraud.


The judge sentenced his co-defendant, Udeh Udeogu, to 10 years in jail despite the fact that all the witnesses testified in favour of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu. To some of us in court that day, it was nothing but an aberration of Justice. Among the 19 witnesses against Kalu, none of them implicated him in the allegations, yet the judge did what he wanted to do. The manner and way the judge delivered the verdict pointed to our suspicion that it was a well executed attempt to alienate the South-east geopolitical zone from the 2023 presidential contest — especially in the ruling All Progressive Congress by trying to incarcerate a man whose new party— the PPA won two states of Abia and Imo in the 2007 gubernatorial elections.

 

Senator Orji Uzor Kalu contributed the sum of N100 million (now worth over N100 billion) to the then 1999 presidential candidate of the PDP, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to aid his campaign and also donated another N500 million (now worth over N600 billion) to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He has always been someone who is beloved by the masses but not so much always loved by the powerful especially those who wield political power at a national or subnational levels but who are not so much charismatic as to earn the love, admiration and respect of the greatest percentage of the citizenry.

 

What this means is that, because he has always carried on any political task given to him by the voters in such a very humbling manner and in such a very zealous way with the mindset that the wellbeing and welfare of the greatest percentage of the people represents his acceptable and irreducible benchmark.

 

By becoming such a grassroots man who is beloved as a politician at the grassroots level, he very often have found himself in externally induced confrontation with some of these very powerful people.

 

This was exactly what made the then President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to use the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as the political tool to witch-hunt the Abia State born charismatic politician Senator Orji Uzor Kalu because the then President aforementioned, whose tumultuous tenure was about to end because he was not successful in getting the illegal third term that he very much sought after, was actually seeking for imaginary political enemies to pull down and so he thought Orji Uzor Kalu was his perfect prey.

 

Unfortunately, the EFCC led persecution which the government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo started has lingered and even when it has become so clear that it was purely a political vendetta and a malicious prosecution as established by both the nation’s apex Court and the Federal High Court, the EFCC which appears to be playing the political game of some northern phantom interest of desperately power hungry powerful office holders, has continued with the malicious prosecution by instituting a needless appeal against the well considered and well articulated judgment of the Appeal Court upholding the judgment of the High Court that barred the EFCC from prosecuting Orji Uzor Kalu over the so called charges bothering on the disappearance of N7 billion from Abia State treasury.

 

As a Yoruba lawyer with a good conscience, it is only right that I join other well-meaning Nigerians in urging the EFCC and the judiciary not to allow themselves to be manipulated by desperate political individuals as seen in the Orji Uzor Kalu case for the overall political stability, development and prosperity of Nigeria.

 

Kolawole Ojo, a legal practitioner writes from Ado Ekiti

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Emeh James Anyalekwa, is a Seasoned Journalist, scriptwriter, Movie producer/Director and Showbiz consultant. He is the founder and CEO of the multi Media conglomerate, CANDY VILLE, specializing in Entertainment, Events, Prints and Productions. He is currently a Special Assistant (Media) to the Former Governor of Abia State and Chairman Slok Group, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu. Anyalekwa is also the National President, Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (OMPAN) https://web.facebook.com/emehjames

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