A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday, granted post-conviction bail to a former Abia State Director of Finance and Account, Jones Udeogu, who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in December 2019.
Udeogu was convicted on Dec. 5, 2019, by Justice Mohammed Idris of N7.1 billion fraud and jailed alongside a former Abia Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Following an application by his lawyer, Chief Solo Akuma, SAN, on Thursday, Justice Mohammed Liman granted the convict a post-conviction bail of N50million, pending the determination of his appeal against the judgment of Justice Idris.
Akuma had told the judge that his client was suffering from prostate cancer and tuberculosis.
He told the court 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.
Akuma said Udeogu was 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 deposed to by one Lazarus Agu, the deponent said that the correctional facility where Udeogu was serving his jail term lacked the wherewithal to provide him with the medical attention needed.
However, EFCC prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) vehemently opposed the application describing it as simply a ploy to serve his term in the correctional centre.
He argued that the convict had been in prison since his conviction and was now just coming forward to claim illness of tuberculosis.
Jacobs urged the court to refuse the application.
In his ruling, on Thursday, Justice Liman said he was satisfied that Udeogu had disclosed a reasonable cause of action to qualify for a post-conviction bail.
The judge said, “I am of the opinion that this application has disclosed a reasonable cause of action that the defendant’s health has greatly deteriorated and it cannot be salvaged by the doctor in the correctional service centre.
“Accordingly, this application is meritorious and succeeds,” he said.
He consequently, granted Udeogo N50million bail with two sureties in like sum.
Recall that Liman had on Dec. 23, 2019, rejected a similar application by Kalu seeking a post-conviction bail pending the outcome of his appeal against his conviction.
In his own application, Kalu had urged Justice Liman to release him on bail on the grounds that he required to consult his herbalist, on some health challenges, which the medical facilities in the prison could not handle.
Justice Liman declined the application, on grounds that it lacked merit.