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Just In: Orji Uzo Kalu Released from Prison

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Senator Orji Kalu, who was jailed for allegedly stealing public funds, has been released from custody, reports PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr Kalu, a former Abia State governor, was freed from the Nigerian correctional facility in Kuje, Abuja, on Friday morning, two sources familiar with the development said.

He has now moved to his residence off Queen Amina Street within the perimeter of Aso Rock Presidential Villa, sources said. The sources spoke under anonymity because they were close to Mr Orji and did not get immediate permission from him to disclose his release to the press.

Mr Kalu’s release came moments after the Supreme Court voided his conviction in December 2019 in a multi-billion naira corruption trial.

Mr Kalu had been accused of pilfering and mismanaging funds belonging to Abia State during his days as governor between 1999 and 2007. He pleaded not guilty and appealed his conviction by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.

On Friday morning, the Supreme Court deemed Mr Kalu’s conviction inappropriate and ordered a retrial of the case, according to multiple media reports out of the court.

A seven-member panel of the apex court, in a unanimous verdict delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, declared that the conviction null and void, Channels TV reported Friday.

According to the report, Justice Eko declared that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted Mr Kalu, was already a justice of the Court of Appeal, when he ruled and sentenced Mr Kalu and his co-defendant.

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Court Revokes Marina’s Son’s Bail, Orders His Arrest

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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday revoked the bail granted Faisal Maina, the son of Abdulrasheed Maina, and ordered his arrest for jumping bail in his trial on money laundering charges.

Justice Okon Abang also ordered that his trial on money laundering charges would proceed in absentia pending when the security agencies would be able to arrest and produce him in court.

The judge also summoned his surety, a member of the House of Representatives, Sani Umar Dangaladima, representing the Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara State, to appear in court to show cause why he should not forfeit the N60m bail bond which he signed for Faisal.

The order for Faisal’s arrest came barely six days after the same court, on November 18, issued a similar order against his father, Abdulrasheed Maina, a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, who is facing separate N2.1bn money laundering charges before the court.

On Monday, Justice Okon Abang, sent Maina’s surety, Senator Ali Ndume, to jail for his inability to produce the fleeing defendant in court.

Earlier on Tuesday, following the judge’s November 18 ruling, Maina’s trial held in his absence with three prosecution witnesses testifying behind him and his legal team.

At the resumed hearing of Faisal’s trial on Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s prosecution counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, said both the defendant and his surety had not attended court since June 24, 2020.

The Punch

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FG, S’South Govs, Leaders Set to Meet in Rivers Tuesday

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A delegation from the Federal Government is expected to meet with Governors and leaders of the South-South geo-political zone in Government House, Port Harcourt today (Tuesday).

The Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, is expected to lead the presidential delegation.

A Government House source in Port Harcourt, who confirmed the meeting to our correspondent, said Gambari is on his way to Port Harcourt.

The rescheduled meeting is coming on the heels of the botched stakeholders’ forum, which angered the Southern Governor, during which the South-South Governors’ Forum, demanded an apology from the presidency.

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Makinde Presents N266.6bn 2021 Budget to Assembly

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The Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, on Monday presented a budget of N266.6bn as the 2021 budget to the state Assembly.

While presenting the budget tagged, ‘Budget of continued consolidation’ Makinde announced that 53.2 per cent of the total budget was being proposed for capital expenditure.

He said, “The 2021 budget is N12bn above the 2020 budget and this is to further drive a consolidation effort that we started this year.

“We were able to achieve 50.2 per cent of the 2020 budget implementation and you will agree with me that it was due to causes beyond our control like the COVID-19 pandemic and other crisis that bedevilled the nation and the world at large.”

Makinde further explained that the recurrent expenditure is N136, 262,990 while the capital expenditure is N130. 381bn.

According to him, 21 per cent of the budget, amounting to N56.348 bn, is allocated to education while infrastructure is to gulp N46bn, representing 17.2per cent of the budget.

For health, a total of N13.2bn, representing 4.9per cent of the budget was set aside for the establishment of primary health centers across 351 wards in the state.

Makinde lauded the state lawmakers for their cooperation.

“So, it is pertinent that we appreciate the members of the state House of Assembly for their support.”

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