A federal high court sitting in Lagos has fixed December 2, 2019, for
judgment in the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor
Kalu, and two others for an alleged fraud of N7.65 billion.
Justice Mohammed Idris fixed judgment day on Tuesday after the
prosecution and the defence adopted their written addresses and
canvassed final arguments in the 12-year-old case.
Standing trial alongside Kalu are his company, Slok Nigeria Limited
and Udeh Udeogu, who was the director of finance and accounts at the
Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor.
In an amended 39 counts, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
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 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 N7.1 billion “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”.
The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said the ex-governor
violated Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act,
2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.
Apart from the N7.1 billion, which he was accused of laundering, the
ex-governor and the other defendants were also accused of receiving a
total of N460 million allegedly stolen from the state’s 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.
But the defendants pleaded not guilty.
In an attempt to prove the allegations, the prosecution called 19 witnesses.
The defendants testified on behalf of themselves in an attempt to deny
On Tuesday, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs
(SAN), urged the judge to jail the defendants as the prosecution had
proved the allegations against them.
Jacobs said the second defendant had already admitted to the offence
both in his extrajudicial statement and under cross-examination.
“The admission is binding on all the defendants,” the prosecutor said.
He added that contrary to Kalu’s statement that Abia State did not
have as much as N7 billion during his administration, information from
the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation showed total
allocation to Abia State under Kalu was N137 billion.
However, the defence urged the court to dismiss the charges, acquit
and discharge their clients.
Justice Idris fixed December 2 for judgment.
SaharaReporters, New York