Orji Uzor Kalu, senate chief whip, says his stay in prison has taught him invaluable lessons about the country and its justice system.
On Friday, the apex court upturned his conviction for alleged fraud and ordered a retrial. He had spent about five months in prison.
In 2019, a federal high court in Lagos convicted Kalu of N7.1 billion fraud. He was subsequently sentenced to 12 years in prison after standing trial on 39-count charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In a statement, the former governor of Abia state said his experience has reaffirmed his “belief and confidence in our country”.
“I want to use this moment to thank my family, my colleagues, my friends, my supporters, the people of Abia State, and all Nigerians for their unflinching and unwavering confidence and trust in me through the very testing period. We all know today that their prayers have not been in vain,” he said.
“I also use this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Nigerian Correctional Service for the unalloyed professionalism and sincere humanity extended to me by its staff while I was in their custody.
“I must accord a special mention to the Justices of our Supreme Court for their unwavering commitment to rule of law. We all stand reminded of the consistent and strategic relevance of the Nigerian Supreme Court in holding this country together, even in moments of great peril. As far back as in the 1971 case of LAKANMI V. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION, (the Ademola Adetokumbo-led Court) the Nigerian Supreme Court has severally rescued this country from the precipice.
“My case is a true Nigerian story with a bold MADE-IN-NIGERIA stamp on it. It is a story of initial injustice that was caught and ultimately corrected. It is a story of restoration. It is a story of how a wrong was righted and how justice and truth prevailed in the end.”
Kalu said his experience has also given him a new perspective on matters of justice and injustice in Nigeria.
“I have come to know that the course of justice will not be complete if it stopped at my case. It must continue until it touches the lives of millions of Nigerians who face injustice anywhere in this world,” he said.
“I shall be dedicating my time henceforth to ensuring there will be justice for all Nigerians whether they are in Sokoto or Akwa Ibom or in Lagos or Maiduguri or in Jos or Enugu, or wherever they may be.
“A system whereby over 70% of all prison inmates population is made up of people awaiting trial cannot be allowed to continue. Situations where innocent people are falsely charged with murder just to get them out of the way does not dignify our country and cannot continue.
“Justice must now mean justice for all. That is my pledge to Nigerians.”
He added that he is looking forward to rejoin his colleagues at the senate.