Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday granted post-conviction bail to a former Abia State Commissioner for Finance, Udeh Udeogu, who was convicted of N7.65billion fraud alongside former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu on health grounds.
Udeogu was jail for a total of 56 years by Justice Mohammad Idris on December 5, 2019 after he was convicted of a N7.1 billion fraud and money laundering.
While Kalu was sentenced to a total of 133 years imprisonment for the same offence.
The former Commissioner had through his counsel, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN), urged the court to grant him bail pending the hearing and determination of his appeal against his conviction
Akuma had told the judge that Udeogu was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago at the Abia State Teaching Hospital and that in the course of carrying out tests on him, the hospital also discovered that he had tuberculosis.
The lawyer had also said the convict was still making arrangement to book a date for surgery when he was convicted and sent to prison last December.
In an affidavit filed in support of the post-conviction bail application, one Lazarus Agu claimed that the correctional facility where Udeogu is serving his jail term “does not have facility to provide the type of medical attention Udeogu requires to survive the ailments he is suffering from.”
He said, “The correctional facility authorities have failed to provide or arrange for the treatment of the 2nd defendant outside the facility.
“The type of ailment the 2nd defendant was diagnosed with is of communicable nature and exposes other inmates to great danger.”
Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Adebisi Adeniyi, however, opposed the application.
But in his ruling on Thursday, Justice Liman granted bail to Udeogwu in the sum of N50 million on the grounds of hill health and chronic tuberculosis.
Justice Liman held that tuberculosis is a dangerous disease which can easily affect the other inmates of the correctional facility.
The judge stated, “I’m of the opinion that this application has disclosed reasonable cause of action that the defendant’s health has greatly deteriorated which can not be salvaged by the doctor in the correctional services centre.
“Accordingly this application is meritorious and succeeds.
“Bail is hereby granted to the applicant in the following terms: Applicant is hereby granted bail in the sum of N50 million with two sureties in like sum.
“One of the Sureties must be a landed property owner within the jurisdiction of the court,” the court held.
Justice Liman also directed that the bailiff of court must verify the authenticity of the title documents.
The judge had on December 23, 2019 dismissed a similar application filed by Kalu, seeking a post-conviction bail pending the outcome of his appeal against his conviction for lacking in merit.