Former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has filed an application before a Federal high court in Lagos, for bail pending the final determination of his appeal against his conviction over alleged N7.1 billion money laundering.
Kalu’s counsel , Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), while arguing the bail application drew the court’s attention to the notice of appeal filed by the former Governor to challenge his conviction by the court.
He told the court that the grounds upon which the appeal was filed were substantial and very arguable.
Lp He argued that Section 6 of the Constitution empowers the court to hear the motion saying it is not different from the regular motions for stay of proceedings or injunctions.
“For now, this is the only court with jurisdiction to entertain this application. There is no limit to the jurisdiction of a court of record like the Federal High Court to grant a motion like this.
“It is not the law that if someone is convicted, he cannot have reprieve. If the court has power to convict, it must also have power to grant a reprieve pending appeal”, Fagbemi said.
EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, while opposing Kalu’s application contended that the court indeed has the power to grant bail after conviction but faulted claims by Kalu’s lawyer as to the need for the court to grant motion because a substantial and arguable appeal has been lodged against the conviction.
According to him, the issue of a substantial appeal is one that can only be decided by the Appeal Court and as such, it should not be a basis for the granting of the application .
He further noted that bail generally is a right of an accused as guaranteed by the Constitution based on his presumption of innocence, but not granted to a convict because the presumption of innocence is no longer there”, he said.
Jacobs also faulted the medical reports attached to the motion by Kalu’s lawyer saying they were obtained more than a year ago.
After listening to the submissions of the two parties, Justice Mohammed Liman adjourned till December 23, 2019 for ruling.
*Updated at 2. 59pm