Alleged N7.65bn Fraud: Orji Kalu’s Medical Trip To Germany Stalls Trial

Alleged Fraud: Orji Kalu Files ‘No-Case Submission’ As EFCC Amends Charge
Orji Kalu


The trial of a former Governor of Abia, Orji Uzor Kalu, over an alleged N7.65 billion fraud was on Monday stalled due to his absence in court.

Kalu was absent in court at a Federal High Court in Lagos, due to his medical condition and a medical trip to Germany.

At the resumed trial on Monday, Kalu’s Counsel, Gordy Uche apologised to the court over the absence of the first accused. He said Kalu was currently in Germany for surgery.

Uche told the court that Kalu’s medical appointment, slated earlier for August 2, for which the court had granted permission, was unable to proceed as the accused could not get a flight to Germany on time.

The judge, Justice Mohammed Idriss, in his ruling described the conduct of the former governor as “highly irresponsible.”

Idriss said after he dismissed Kalu’s case and directed him to open his defence, the former governor begged for a six-week adjournment on the claim that he had a surgery appointment in Germany

The Judge said he doubted that Kalu had any such surgical appointment as of July 27 when he wrote to the court to seek a six-week adjournment of his trial.

He subsequently adjourned the case to September 20 and 21.

Kalu is being tried alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Ude Udeogu, who served as Director of Finance and Account at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s reign as governor.

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.”

N3.2bn Corruption Trial: Witness Refuses To Testify Against Orji Kalu

Alleged N3.2bn Fraud: Judge's Absence Stalls Kalu’s Trial
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A legal practitioner, Kingsley Ekwem, has declined to testify as a prosecution witness in the trial of a former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu and two others over an alleged N3.2billion fraud.

The lawyer instead asked Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos to set aside a witness summons served on him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to testify in the matter.

Arguing an application he filed to challenge the court’s summons, the lawyer said he would not be able to testify in the matter owing to the existing relationship between his chambers and the third defendant in the case, Slok Nigeria Limited).

He also told the court that he is not a compellable witness to testify on issues that could breach the professional communication between his law firm and the third defendant.

The lawyer cited certain provisions of the Evidence Act 2011 as well the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners to buttress his point.

Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) however countered by arguing that the lawyers’ position was not founded on law.

He insisted that the lawyer could only raise objections to the witness summons after he had entered the witness box in obedience to the court’s order.

In his submissions on the issue, Former Governor Kalu’s lawyer, Awa Kalu urged the court to consider the relevant provisions of the Evidence Act in granting the application.

He argued that the EFCC cannot put the lawyer in the witness box because the prosecution witness through which the document was tendered as an exhibit had informed the court that it was obtained through a search warrant.

He, therefore, urged the court not to compel the applicant to testify so as to thwart what he called the EFCC’s ulterior motive of incriminating his client, Dr Orji Kalu.

Other defence lawyers aligned themselves with the submissions of Chief Awa Kalu (SAN).

Justice Mohammed Idris has fixed ruling on the application for February 1.

Court Adjourns Trial Of Ex-Abia Governor, Orji Kalu

Alleged N3.2bn Fraud: Judge's Absence Stalls Kalu’s Trial
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A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has adjourned the trial of a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu to January 22 and 23rd.

Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the proceedings after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to produce one of its major witnesses in court.

The former governor is being tried on a 34 count charge alongside one of his aides, Udeh Udeogu and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited for allegedly diverting the sum of N2.9bn from the coffers of the Abia State Government.

They have however pleaded not guilty.

READ ALSO: EFCC Re-arraigns Former FCT Minister, Jumoke Akinjide

At the resumed proceedings of the case today, January 16, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), told Justice Idris that the witness in question, one M.A. Udoh had been evasive, and the anti-graft agency was having difficulty bringing him to court.

He urged the court to grant a short adjournment to enable him to locate and bring the witness, a retired employee of the Abia State Government House, Umuahia, to court to testify.

The defence counsel promptly opposed the move for an adjournment, describing it as frivolous.

They expressed disappointment at the EFCC’s request for an adjournment and indicated their readiness to continue. They also told the court that most of them had flown to Lagos from Abuja just to ensure that there was no further delay in the case that had lasted for over 10 years.

The defence then urged the court to either foreclose the prosecution’s case or in the alternative order the EFCC to bear the cost of their transportation and hotel accommodation.

But the EFCC prosecutor countered by reminding the court that the case was delayed for over 10 years at the instance of the defendants who pursued an interlocutory appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.

In his ruling, Justice Idris described the development as unfortunate.

He noted that the case had been adjourned on four different occasions at the request of the prosecution.

Though he conceded to an adjournment, the judge warned that it would be the last of its kind.

He then fixed further proceedings for January 22 and 23rd.

Orji Kalu Berates Governors Over Arbitrary Expenses

Orji Kalu Berates Governors Over Arbitrary ExpensesA former Governor of Abia state, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has berated state Governors on arbitrary expenses incurred on purchasing exotic cars.

He urged them to rather use such funds to provide social infrastructure for state citizens.

The former Governor, stated this in Okwu community in Ikeduru local government area of Imo state, when he attended the commissioning thanksgiving service of a newly built Catholic church in the area.

According to him, as the Governor of Abia state for eight years, he never used bullet proof cars because he believed there was no reason for that.

“As the Governor of Abia state, I never used bullet proof cars. Even up till now, I am not using bullet proof cars. I made use of buses as Governor and I am still using buses up till now.

“I don’t believe anybody can kill me except God. Instead of spending huge money in buying expensive bullet proof cars, Governors should use the money to provide electricity and other basic social amenities for their people”.

The former Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, also present, called on all Nigerians irrespective of their party, ethnic or religious affiliation, to support the President Buhari-led government, stating that if the President fails, then the whole Nigerians have failed.

Also, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Catholic archdiocese, Anthony Obinna, expressed concern over the killing of Christians in southern Kaduna, stating that it is a war orchestrated to wipe out Christians in the country.

The clergyman then raised an alarm that if the crisis is not well managed, it can degenerate into a serious National challenges which would spread to every nook and cranny of the country.

He then tasked the President to quickly ensure that those involved in the dastardly act are brought to face the full wrath of the law.

EFCC Re-Arraigns Former Governor Orji Kalu In Lagos

EFCC, Orji KaluA former Governor of Abia state, Mr Orji Kalu, has been docked at the Federal High Court in Lagos, answering alleged corruption charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

It is, however, not clear what specific charges the former governor is facing at the Lagos court.

He had been previously arraigned before the Federal High Court, along with two other people.

They were in that instance accused of diverting about 3.2 billion Naira from the Abia government’s treasury.

The court adjourned the case till December 6, 2016 for commencement of trial.

In March, the Supreme Court had ruled that the EFCC could prosecute the former Abia Governor, ruling that the anti-graft agency had established prime-facie cases against the defendant.

The former governor was accused of laundering and illegal diversion of public funds of about 5.6 billion Naira.

Mr Kalu was said to have perpetuated the fraud between 1999 and 2007 while he was the Governor of Abia State.


Uzor Kalu Lauds Government’s Strategy To Check Economic Recession

Orji Kalu on Nigeria's EconomyA former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, has hailed the move by the Federal Government to gather more brains and put policy in place to address the economic recession.

He made his opinion known in Umuahia on Friday while addressing reporters.

Mr Kalu also told reporters that the economic recession started in 2014 but was surprised that Nigerians were not keen to comprehend that it was time to diversify the economy.

According to him, no economy could survive by borrowing to offset its demand without a requisite balance to inject into the economy.

The former Abia State governor further called for policy on the manufacturing sector that would enable Nigeria produce more for export.

Mr Kalu also hinted that more money was needed to bring the nation out of its predicament, stressing the need for Nigerians to tighten their belts, since stabilising the economy would involve a gradual process.

Nigeria’s economic recession became official after a report of the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the nation’s Gross Domestic Product contracted by 2.06% in the second quarter of 2016.

According to the report, the decline has caused the Naira to get weaker while lower oil prices dragged the oil sector down.

The output shrunk by 0.36 in the first quarter.

During the quarter, nominal GDP was 2.73% higher at 23.48 million Naira at basic prices.

This growth was lower than the rate recorded in the second quarter of 2015 by 2.44% points.

Dangote, Adenuga, Others Make Forbes List

DangotePresident of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has maintained his number one position as Africa’s richest man for a fifth year in a row by Forbes magazine.

Dangote leads with a net worth of 16.7 billion dollars and that is after losing nearly 5 billion dollars in one year, owing to a drop in the stock price of Dangote Cement and a pressured naira.

Others on the list are Chairman of Globacom, Mike Adenuga, who came in seventh position. Business woman and the only female from Nigeria on the list, Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, came in at 13th while Forte Oil Chairman, Femi Otedola was 16th.

Also, Founder of Bua Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu is 23rd, while former Defence Minister, Theophilus Danjuma is number 30 and Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu came in at 31.

Other Nigerians on the list are Jim Ovia, Mohammed Indimi and Orji Uzor Kalu who took the 37th, 39th and 49th spot respectively.

Nigerians who dropped off the list are Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, Hakeem Bello Osagie, CEO of Yinka Folawiyo Group, Tunde Folawiyo, and Oba Otudeko of Honeywell Group.

Forbes compiles the list by calculating net worth using stock prices, currency exchange rates, estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies.

Theodore Orji Is Ruling Abia State With Propaganda – Kalu

Orji Uzor kaluA former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that the current governor, Theodore Orji, is ruling the state with propaganda, with funds borrowed from different banks with nothing to show for it.

On Channels Television’s politics programme, Politics Today, on Sunday, Dr. Kalu, who was instrumental to Governor Orji’s election, said that he had called the governor and advised him but that he was not aware of what went wrong.

“Nothing great is in Abia State at the moment. All infrastructures have been grounded,” he said.

The former governor also debunked claims that he was antagonising the current governor because he was not allowed to play a ‘godfather’ role.

He said he was ready to pay external auditors to audit the state’s account to ascertain the financial status of the state and the infrastructures on ground.

A Tiger

Kalu’s return to PDP since January of 2012 has generated concerns from members of the party.

He had left the PDP to form the Progressive Peoples Alliance and ran for the presidency in 2007.

Dr. Kalu, however, said that people were raising concerns about his return to the party because he is seen as ‘a tiger’.

He said that the state had become a place where nobody is giving an opportunity to talk, but insisted that political party’s membership is a free-in free-out affair just like a church.

According to him, no one, has the right to stop him from being part of any political party of his choice.

On the next governor of Abia State and the issue of zoning, he said that it would be right if the southern part of the state would be given an opportunity to rule.

“The next governor of Abia State has been zoned to the south-south part of the state and people from old Aba zone should be giving an opportunity to rule the state,” former Governor Kalu said.

Asked if his return to the PDP was for any political ambition, Dr Kalu said that his mission was to be in the political party and nothing more, expressing his support for a second term for President Goodluck Jonathan.

He further expressed belief that the 2015 general elections would be keenly contested since the political system is gradually winding down to a two party system and expressed optimism that the PDP would win the Presidential election.