Alleged N7.65bn Fraud: Orji Kalu To Know Fate In December
The Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos is set to deliver judgment in an alleged fraud case of N7.65 billion against a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others.
In a ruling on Tuesday, Justice Mohammed Idris fixed December 2 for judgment after parties in the case adopted their written addresses and made their final arguments, 12 years after trial initially commenced.
In its final arguments, the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Rotimi Jacobs, asked the judge to jail the defendants as the prosecution had proved the allegations against them.
Jacobs, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), also told the court that contrary to Senator Kalu’s statement that Abia did not have as much as N7 billion during his administration, information from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation revealed that total allocation to the state when the lawmaker was governor was N137 billion.
The defence counsels, on their part, asked the court to dismiss the charges, acquit and discharge their clients.
They insisted that the prosecution failed to prove its case against them.
After listening to all the parties, Justice Idris fixed December 2 for judgment.
Senator Kalu, his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor, are standing trial on an amended 39-count brought against them by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency accused them of conspiring and diverting N7.65 billion from the coffers of the state.
In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Kalu, who was Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007, “did procure Slok Nigeria Limited – a company solely owned by you and members of your family – to retain in its account, domiciled with the then Inland Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos, an aggregate sum of N7,197,871,208.7 on your behalf.”
The prosecution claimed that the money “formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government and which was converted into several bank drafts before they were paid into the said company’s account.”
Mr Jacobs said the offences were contrary to Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and punishable under Section 16 of the same Act.
Apart from the N7.1bn, which he was accused of laundering, the former governor and the other defendants were also accused of receiving a total of N460 million allegedly stolen from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.
The prosecutor said they breached Section 427 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
However, the defendants all pleaded not guilty.
In an attempt to prove the allegations, the prosecution called a total of 19 witnesses while the defendants testified on behalf of themselves.