The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has trenchantly opposed a post-conviction bail application filed by former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, before Justice Muhammed Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Kalu was convicted and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for N7.65bn fraud by Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos on December 5, 2019.
In the application, Kalu, through his lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, claimed that he had health challenges that could not be managed by the medical facilities in the Custodial Centre in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Kalu, in the 34-paragraph further affidavit with one exhibit attached, also argued that the offences for which he was convicted and jailed were bailable.
He, therefore, prayed the court to free him, while he challenges his conviction at the Court of Appeal.
“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.
However, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, counsel to the respondent, EFCC, opposed the application for post-conviction bail, saying: “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.”
Jacobs further stated that such a bail could be granted in a situation, where the term of imprisonment would have elapsed before the determination of the appeal.
“But that is not the situation in Kalu’s case,” he further said.
According to Jacobs, the medical report tendered in the case was obtained over a year ago.
“There is no recent medical report to show his state of health,” Jacobs added.
Jacobs also argued that the request to be released on bail so as to seek traditional medicine is not tenable, as visitors are allowed into the Custodial Centre.
Jacobs, who said the medical facilities at the Ikoyi Custodial Centre are capable of handling Kalu’s condition, also told the court that “In one breath, the applicant is saying that he wants to be released on health grounds; while in another breath, he is saying that as a Senator, he needs to be released on bail so as to carry out his official functions.”
Justice Liman adjourned the case till December 23, 2019 for ruling on the application.