Orji Uzor Kalu’s kinsmen on Friday hailed the verdict of the Supreme Court nullifying the conviction of the former Governor of Abia State, who was handed down 12-year jail term for corruption.
In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria, they described the judgment as apt and well served.
Elder Uwakwe Okoronkwo, President-General, Igbere Welfare Union, expressed delight over Kalu’s release from prison and pointed out that the judiciary remained the last hope of every Nigerian.
Okoronkwo said: “Thank God the Supreme Court did not compromise, but has shown that it is the last hope of the common man.
“We are happy since he has been released and we urge him to continue to represent the interest of Igbo people and the country.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the court also quashed the conviction of Ude Udeogu, who was a Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure.
Justice Mohammed Idris had on December 5, 2019 sentenced the former governor and Senate Chief Whip to 12 years in prison for allegedly stealing public funds while in office, and Udeogu sentenced to 10 years in prison.
A third defendant, SLOK Nigeria, Kalu’s company, was ordered to be wound up and its assets forfeited to the Nigerian Government.
They were convicted for defrauding the government of Abia State when Kalu was governor.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had brought the criminal charge against the duo for conspiring and diverting N7.6 billion from the coffers of the state.
Chief Ukaegbu Kazi, President-General, Amankalu Igbere Improvement Union, emphasised the need for Kalu to remain committed to championing the cause of Igbo people.
Ukaegbu, a retired principal, expressed optimism that Kalu’s release from prison would enable him to be better focused in delivering good representation for his constituents at the National Assembly.
He said: “The manner he was convicted leaves a big question mark and gave a reason for him to always apply caution.
“Kalu must always look and think carefully because this has served as a big lesson being that the people he helped turned back and stabbed him at the back.”
Chief Kalu Ogbonnaya, a Kano-based businessman of Igbere extraction, also commended the Supreme Court for the judgment.
He said: “Inasmuch as the EFCC intends to re-arraign him, Kalu will still be free at the end.”
Ogbonnaya said the arraignment was a plot to destabilise him from contesting for the presidency in 2023.
“It is the work of the enemy and a ploy to stop him from contesting in 2023, but I urge him to go ahead to contest,” Ogbonnaya said.
Similarly, Elder Adiele Udeogu, former Chairman, Igbere Welfare Union, Abuja Branch, said Kalu’s kinsmen would continue to give him the needed support to enable him accomplish his political ambition.
Udeogu said: “We will always support him to enable him forge ahead and render service to humanity.
“We are also happy that he is out of prison and not disturbed that the EFCC’s plans to re-arraign him.”